For a young person, trying to get a job is nerve-wracking enough, without having to worry about whether you look the part.

In recognition of the fact that their young members struggle to afford an appropriate outfit, the New York Public Library is lending a helping hand.

Michelle Lee is the young adult librarian who came up with the idea.
Image: NYPL

The library is lending out essential interview attire - ties, briefcases and handbags - in a bid to help job applicants look smart and hopefully land the job.

Adults and teenagers who are members of the library can borrow the items for three weeks, as long as they don’t have outstanding fines of $15 or more on their library cards.

The scheme is part of a wider package of help that the library is offering. They also provide a range of career resources for job-hunters and run workshops for teenagers where they can learn how to prepare a resumé, find job listings and apply for jobs online as well as in person.

Image: Instagram/deweydecimation

“Many of the teens at the Riverside Library who attend my job hunt talk did not know what would be appropriate to wear for job interviews, or did not have proper attire,” says Michelle Lee, the library staff member who came up with the idea.

The innovation project

The program is funded through the New York Public Library Innovation Project. Launched in 2014, the project supports the ideas of staff across the library’s 88 neighborhood libraries throughout Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx.

Young members engage with an exploration station at the Battery Park branch of the New York Public Library.
Image: NYPL

Library staff members propose ideas, which their colleagues are then asked to vote on. The members of the Innovation Project team then have the final say on the most popular projects, making sure that they will work in practice.

So far, 60 projects have received funding, including one that offered family museum passes, a job search program for the long-term unemployed and the setting up of exploration pop-up stations for children in various branches.