In need of formal clothing accessories for a job interview, wedding, graduation, audition, prom, or any formal event? The New York Public Library Grow Up collection can lend you neckties, bowties, handbags, and briefcases. The program is funded through the Innovation Project and is available to all adults and teenagers with $15 or less in fines on their library cards. In addition to the formal wear, New York Public Libraries are offering career advice, interview tips, suggested reading, and websites and organisations for professional advice.
Public libraries have long exemplified the idea of a public good, of a place where one can learn and benefit regardless of financial standing. Libraries have also served to build communities, support individuals, and provide space for discourse and capacity-building. The NYPL Grow Up program takes this idea further by providing clothing accessories to community members. Many libraries have long offered career advice and counseling, but does the lending of handbags, neckties, and briefcases mark a new kind of public good? Will these types of programs start sprouting up elsewhere, thereby shifting the normal types of goods and services that public libraries provide? And, considering the digitization of books and information, could libraries pivot towards providing more things like professional counselling and neckties than books?