September 14, 2018

Rent the Runway, but for job interviews, courtesy of your public library


Ditch the career counselor. Grab a library card instead.

According to Kristin Toussaint writing for New York Metro, one branch of the New York Public Library wants to help teens look their very best as they enter the wild world of adulting. As Toussaint reported last month, the Riverside NYPL branch has debuted a new lending library titled “Grow Up Work Fashion,” where they are lending out ties, briefcases, and handbags.

The program, started by Upper West Side young-adult librarian Michelle Leegrew out of the NYPL’s Innovation Project and is offered in conjunction with workshops aimed at teens just about to enter the rat race. Workshop topics have included appropriate interview attire, and healthy eating on a budget. Per the NYPL blog, the lending library aims to help those missing that key-but-expensive detail for their job interview/audition/graduation. The items can be borrowed by any adult or teen (sorry, toddlers) with $15 or less in fines on their library card, for a loan duration of three weeks.

“We get a lot of kids from schools across the street going on first job interviews,” branch librarian Thaddeus Krupo told Lizeth Beltran at Crain’s. “This is what prompted us to launch the program.”

And the fun world of gainful employment isn’t the only life event Grow Up Work Fashion aims to help: the ties, handbags, and briefcases are also available as loans for weddings, funerals, or proms – really any event where you might need a classy accessory (did we mention bow ties are also part of the library?).

“Sometimes folks might not need to wear a tie all the time, but they have an event coming up that they have to wear one to, and this is a way they can have [one] if they can’t afford it,” Lee told Toussaint.

The Grow Up Work Fashion lending library has enough funding (primarily by a grant from The Charles H. Revson Foundation and donations from Career Gear) to operate for one year. No word yet on what happens after that year is up, nor on when the NYPL will debut their thirtysomething lending library, consisting of snuggies, boxed wine, and eye cream.



Susan Rella is the Director of Production at Melville House, and a former bookseller.