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Meet My Nguyen, Street Style Photog of the D.C. Public Library

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Portrait of My Nguyen by R. Lopez

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Wear something stylish to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library downtown, and there's a chance that library associate My Nguyen will capture your look. Nguyen's blog Pop! Street Fashion documents the style of fascinating D.C. library patrons, and gets a little bit of insight into their lives. She started the project while working at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Public Library and kept it going when she moved to the historic Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Nguyen snaps outfit photos and she also quizzes her subjects on everything from their fashion icons to what they're reading right now.

We turned the tables to ask Nguyen how she got this idea, what inspires her, her favorite books, and where she loves to shop in Washington, D.C. And find a few of the cool folks featured in her blog after the jump.

Images courtesy of the D.C. Public Library

So how did you come up with the idea?
I read a lot of fashion blogs and street style blogs and I thought that it would be a good opportunity to bring that to the library. People of all walks of life come in and many of them have really great style and a lot of great stories to tell about their style and what they're reading and their lives. I thought this would be a really good opportunity to showcase our patrons, because our patrons are really what make the library a vibrant place.

And when you told your bosses you wanted to do this, were they surprised?
They were very receptive of it and supportive. My boss at the Shaw library, Eric Riley, once in an interview was talking about the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Public Library, and mentioned his dream of having some sort of fashion-related thing in the library called the House of Watha. Then when I started working there in 2011, that was where the personal style showcasing began, at the Shaw library. I called it the House of Watha, I photographed patrons who came in, and interviewed them and their personal style.

When you approach people, is it spur of the moment?
It's always spur of the moment, I kind of accost them. I say "Hi, I really like your outfit, can I take your picture and interview you for the library?" I think young people are more receptive. Older people are a little less receptive, not because they are offended, but maybe they're a little jarred, like "Whoa, you think I have great style." But I think teens are more interested because they're into style and fashion.

What are your favorite style blogs to read?
I like Milk Teeths. She knows how to combine things she finds at the thrift store with higher end pieces. I also like calivintage, she has a great eye for personal style. I like Natalie Off Duty.

Do you have any favorite stores in the D.C. area?
Polly Sue's Vintage in Takoma Park. Great selection, very reasonably priced. Meeps is another good one. And Mercedes Bien Vintage.

Have there been any surprising things you've learned from working on the blog?
I once interviewed a guy named Larry, he was 18. He was carrying a boombox, he had a really big hi-top that he dyed orange. He had a cell-phone watch. He looked like something out of the 80s. I really admired his style. It was bold and fearless.

I would say that for me, it's a great privilege and honor to be able to work with people who will let me photograph them, and ask them questions about their personal style and why they visit the library.

What are your favorite books?
Lolita, Little Women, and The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire.

What made you pick your career path?
I really like helping people and I like the idea of providing free unlimited access to information. I like that my job lets me promote literacy, whether it be digital or in book form. I also like that I work with a wide range of people. I feel really lucky that I get to do that. I like that my job is not just combined to one thing, like books or computers, it's a nice synthesis of everything.
· Pop! DC Library Fashion [Official Site]
· Pop! DC Library Fashion [Pinterest]
· House of Watha T DC Library Fashion [Official Site]