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New York library lends ties, briefcases, handbags for job interviews



new york public library

Most libraries around the country provide much more than books: They have computers and printers, and some even have telescopes and microscopes for patrons to check out. Several lend American Girl dolls, allowing kids to check out the highly coveted and pricey toys for a few weeks at a time.

And starting last month, a New York library branch began experimenting with new offerings: neckties, bow ties, handbags and briefcases intended for people with limited resources who are heading for job interviews, auditions or any other event for which they need to dress up.

“They can use it for a school performance, or prom if they want a tie,” said young adult 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 Lee was teaching a free class at the library about job seeking and résumé making. She told the high school students in attendance: “You want to look professional. You shouldn’t be bringing a backpack to a job interview.”
Their reaction surprised her.

“For a lot of them it was eye-opening, because they never thought about it,” Lee said. “One of the students said he didn’t have anything like that. The other kids were like, ‘I don’t have nice things.'”

She realised the students needed more than a résumé class.

“It got me thinking if the library could help,” she said.

She felt that she already had the teens’ attention because many of them use the library as a hangout spot after school, often doing homework on computers, borrowing laptops or reading comic books. It’s also a gathering spot for younger children and their caretakers after school – Lee estimates there are about 200 young people at the branch on any given day.

“There’s not a lot of places in the city where kids can gather in a free spot indoors and just be,” Lee said.

So she drafted a proposal for the ties and handbags and submitted it to the library’s Innovation Project, a program that allows library staffers to suggest ideas and solutions to problems they come across, with a budget of about $3,000 or less each. After a submission period, the staff voted Lee’s project a winner.

With funding from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, which sponsors the Innovation Project, Lee bought 12 handbags and briefcases new from Amazon, priced from $40 to $120. The ties and pocket squares were donated – including by an employee at Bloomingdale’s.

In August 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.
Lee said she thinks the lending program will be useful because many teens – and adults – use the library to work on résumés or apply for jobs. The library already refers patrons who need business attire to organisations that lend clothes. She figured that allowing people to check out ties and bags would fill a need.

“A lot of them will ask for envelopes or folders to carry into the interview,” Lee said. “We didn’t really have them. But now we have something nicer they can check out.”

Library patrons with less than $15 in fines are eligible to borrow the ties and bags for a three-week span. If they’re late returning an item, a daily fine of 25 cents applies until the fine hits $12. After that, the item is considered lost and the borrower has to replace it.

But at that point, it’s really the honour system.

“It would be on their record,” Lee said. “It’s not like we’re going to chase after them.”

So far, they’ve had a few customers.

Panarat Imcharoen, 45, a native of Thailand, came into the Riverside branch in late August to take an English class. One afternoon, she noticed a large, black Kenneth Cole handbag and checked it out for her sister, Nongyao Imcharoen, 50, who is looking for a job and wants to move to New York.

“I was surprised; I didn’t know before you can borrow men’s and women’s bags,” Panarat said. “That’s a good idea if someone needs it.”

Her sister, who lives in Florida, has come to New York looking for work as a hostess, but she hasn’t had any luck. She said her sister was frustrated with all the things she had to carry as she crisscrossed the city looking for work – comfortable shoes, a change purse, pens and job applications. She didn’t have money to purchase a larger handbag.

So Panarat was excited to give her sister a beautiful new, large purse that could fit all her stuff, even the shoes. At least for a few weeks.

“You can put a lot of stuff in there,” Panarat said. “She was using a not professional purse. This one looks nice.”


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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