2020 Grants Challenge

Curiosity Connection: Altadena Library on Wheels

The grant will support the implementation of a brand new outreach initiative and development of a Mobile Library (van) equipped with books, technological learning tools, and community support resources that will be used to engage the community, especially underserved groups in Altadena, at community events, local schools, and locations of commerce in the San Gabriel Valley.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

San Gabriel Valley

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project or new program

What is the need you’re responding to?

Altadena Libraries serve approximately 53,000 people within its vicinity. While Altadena has affluent areas, there is a disparity in income among the residents, particularly between East and West Altadena where the population concentration is highest. Altadena’s median household income is $88,236; the per capita income is $41,372 falling under the CARE income limits for a family of four. Altadena’s income disparity is larger than both Los Angeles county and the nation as a whole. 85% of local public-school students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged, and schools across our community have closed. These inequalities and loss of learning and literacy resources threaten to widen income, opportunity, and quality of life disparities in our area. The Altadena Libraries are committed to helping students and their families who do not have equal opportunity to technology, literacy, and other learning resources through outreach projects, such as a Mobile Library.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Altadena Library District is an independent special district in Los Angeles County in the unincorporated community of Altadena, where there are no municipal or civic buildings for the community that offer a focal point for services. The Altadena Libraries are two of the only public places for access to technology, free educational materials and programming, and community building. In addition to thousands of visits by library patrons, the Library hosts over 300 community educational programs and events each year, with attendance of over 10,000, and actively looks for more ways to reach out to the community and provide library services beyond our physical walls. With a proven history of service to San Gabriel Valley, Altadena Library District is an excellent choice for investing capital for projects to LEARN, CREATE, PLAY, CONNECT, AND LIVE.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 31,000

Indirect Impact: 53,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Altadena lacks structured communication systems and a City Hall. The Library absorbs traffic that a local government would address; thus, we can connect our community directly with key services and build civic engagement. A mobile library brings people key services directly and library cards, which plug them into our information-sharing network. Using heat maps, we can focus the efforts of our mobile library on areas without library cards, extending our reach. This would engage more people into conversations that our libraries conduct to gather resident data then used to guide decision-making in our libraries and our Altadena Town Council, which shares Altadena’s needs with LA County directly, impacting our entire service population.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

A successful mobile library program would include a robust schedule of outreach events across all Census Tracts in our community, prioritizing opportunities on the west side of Altadena. Equipped with technology and materials in the vehicle, these events would build cohesion between community members around engaging activities in their neighborhoods, offer regular hours for Wi-Fi access in areas in need, increase library card signups and circulation of educational materials through mobile check-outs, and facilitate a spirit of service through volunteer opportunities, all operated out of a modified van.

To capture both quantitative and qualitative measures of the success of our efforts, a key feature to be built into the technology available in the vehicle will be an engaging, interactive digital survey for all community members who use our mobile library to fill out. Another key indicator of success will be our library card statistics; people with library cards are then granted access to not only our physical but also our digital resources. Signing up for a library indicates an investment in community, especially in our community where the Altadena Libraries are key community hubs.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Internet access

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs


Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation