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This Public Library Lets Job-Seekers Check Out Ties

(Photos: Paschalville Branch/Free Library of Philadelphia)

One of the roles of the public library in American society is to be the source of a Plan B for your life. Have you lost your job? There are books about writing résumés and computers on which to type and print them. Often, there are free workshops on helpful skills, such as succeeding at job interviews.

A couple years ago, one of my patrons needed professional clothes for a job interview. I managed to connect her with a non-profit that provided that service. But what would happen if a library could provide that service in-house?

The Paschalville Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is moving in that direction. It has a "tiebrary" -- a circulating collection of 48 neckties that patrons can check out for 3 weeks at a time. All of them are in tastefully conservative colors and patterns appropriate for a professional encounter. TakePart quotes branch manager Jennifer Walker:

“The unemployment rate is 18.5 percent. As for education attainment, 25 percent of the working-age population has less than a high school diploma, and another 39 percent has not progressed past a high school diploma. The poverty level is 34 percent,” she said. About 25 percent of the population are also relatively recent immigrants from African nations or from Vietnam, she said.

Getting those community members prepared to enter the workforce is one of the library system’s main priorities. So last year, when Eddy was on a visit to the Queens Public Library in New York City and heard about a small tiebrary operating there, he was intrigued. A tie-browsing session on Amazon earlier this year spurred him to expand the concept to Philadelphia. “I reached out to Queens to see if they wouldn’t mind us replicating the idea. They said, ‘Go for it,’ ” he said. 

Library assistant Omelio Alexander, who is pictured above, made the tiebrary a success:

“Sometimes you have part of the interview outfit but not the whole outfit, and this is an easy way to doctor up whatever you have and make it more professional,” Alexander, who has worked at the Paschalville branch for nearly six years, told TakePart. He turned some clear VHS cases that were collecting dust in a storage area into display boxes for the neckwear. Enabling patrons to check out ties for up to three weeks lets folks use them for more than one interview without having to go back and forth to the library.

-via Amy Duncan


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While other government agencies sit around and talk about ideas to improve peoples' lives, then spend years designing a pilot program that ends up being too complicated to understand and difficult to use, the local library just up and does it.
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