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Ties in the library

I’ve written here at Nocturnal Librarian about libraries that lend more than books, including one NYPL branch that lets kids borrow dolls, and other libraries that lend cake pans, telescopes, tools, art, and park passes. Yesterday I read about an unusual collection that might make sense for academic libraries to consider: interview wear, in this case, ties.

A public library in Philadelphia and another in Queens do this — turns out the librarian who started the collection in Philadelphia had visited the library in Queens. I read it and wondered “what about women’s interview wear?” but realized it’s different, a woman seeking a job can wear a broader range of clothes and still looked dressed up. We recently interviewed several candidates and only one of the men wore a tie. I wouldn’t choose someone because they dressed up but it does signal that the person felt this meeting was worth making an extra effort.

Some people in academia will say that teaching students to “dress for success” is really the responsibility of the career advising office. True, but libraries are uniquely positioned to lend things and manage lending collections, so we’d be a natural partner.  I haven’t found any academic libraries lending ties, but I did discover that Columbia University’s career center lends entire suits, for both men and women. Corporate partners donated the suits and a dry cleaner donates cleaning.

Lending interview clothes might help give students an edge when job hunting. It also might be a nice symbol of a university’s empathy and good faith toward students as they try to translate their educations into paying jobs. Whether libraries or career offices take the lead, this seems like a student-friendly initiative. I like the idea of ties, because they are smaller and simpler to store than suits and probably don’t need to be cleaned after each wearing. But I wonder what women students would think of that.

What do you think? Do you work in an academic library that lends anything unusual, or anything that you acquired to help another department on campus, like career services?  Is there an equivalent item to ties that women could borrow for interviews?

 

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About Deb Baker

Deb Baker is a writer and insatiable reader. By day she's adult services manager at her small city's public library with a particular passion for readers' advisory. She muses about library issues at The Nocturnal Librarian (https://thenocturnallibrarian.com/) and blogs about books, reading, and life at bookconscious (http://bookconscious.wordpress.com/). Her family includes two awesome offspring, a husband, and the cat who adopted them. And a crazy rescue kitten.

5 responses to “Ties in the library

  1. I’m curious – how libraries handle it when the suit or tie isn’t returned? Our synagogue tried to have a suit library for bar mitzvah students, but no one came forward with the dry cleaning donation. Seems like a worthy cause, but could be hard to maintain.

  2. I like the idea of helping with interviews and job hunting, but with the world becoming more and more casual, the ties in my closet are collecting dust, along with my razor. Certainly a clothes lending collection would present logistical issues, but I wonder what kind of assistance would be more helpful. Maybe something as simple as a way for students to help each other dress for success: review potential outfits, provide lending themselves to complete a look, etc? Ideally maybe you hosting an event where they bring a few options to receive feedback, and a few items to swap or share with others.

    Keep writing, keep sharing, and I am still looking forward to that tour.

    Carl

  3. I like the idea of helping with interviews and job hunting, but with the world becoming more and more casual, the ties in my closet are collecting dust, along with my razor. Certainly a clothes lending collection would present logistical issues, but I wonder what kind of assistance would be more helpful. Maybe something as simple as a way for students to help each other dress for success: review potential outfits, provide lending themselves to complete a look, etc? Ideally maybe you hosting an event where they bring a few options to receive feedback, and a few items to swap or share with others.

    Keep writing, keep sharing, and I am still looking forward to that tour.

    Carl

  4. Sorry silly WordPress made me log in twice and now I have duplicate comments…

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