NEW YORK • Need a nice handbag or a spiffy tie to attend a job interview? Head to a library.
Starting last month, a New York library branch began offering neckties, bow ties, handbags and briefcases for people with limited resources who were heading for job interviews, auditions or any events for which they needed to dress up.
"They can use it for a school performance or prom if they want a tie," said librarian Michelle Lee, who came up with the idea for the Riverside branch of the New York Public Library.
"It doesn't matter what size you are. Anybody could use them."
The concept came to her in 2016, when she was teaching a free class at the library about job-seeking and resume-making.
She drafted a proposal for the ties and handbags and submitted it to the library's Innovation Project, which allows staff to suggest ideas and solutions to problems they come across, with a budget of about US$3,000 (S$4,100) or less each.
With funding from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, which sponsors the Innovation Project, Ms Lee bought 12 handbags and briefcases from Amazon, priced between US$40 and US$120. The ties and pocket squares were donated, including by an employee at Bloomingdale's.
Last month, she placed bar codes on them, folded and displayed them nicely, and plans to start advertising at local high schools and colleges now that school has begun.
Ms Lee thinks the lending programme will be useful because many teenagers and adults use the library to work on resumes or apply for jobs. The library already refers patrons who need business attire to organisations that lend clothes.
Ms Panarat Imcharoen, 45, a native of Thailand, came to the Riverside branch last month to take an English class.
One afternoon, she noticed a large, black Kenneth Cole handbag and checked it out for her sister, who was looking for a job and wanted to move to New York.
"I was surprised. I didn't know you could borrow men's and women's bags," Ms Panarat said.
"That's a good idea if someone needs it."