Community Conversations




Altadena Library District is leading the way for California libraries looking to “turn outward” to their communities and to revolutionize the role of the modern library. At the start of 2017, the District undertook an innovative initiative called “Community Conversations,” inspired by the American Library Association’s “Libraries Transforming Communities” movement and the Harwood Institute’s approach to community engagement. For three months, Altadena Library met with hundreds of community members in homes, local businesses, and organizations across Altadena to discuss aspirations for the community, challenges it faces, and practical action steps toward change. The insightful feedback was shared in the form of a comprehensive report with key community stakeholders and all interested community members and stirred up authentic discussions about needed progress in the community.

The outreach did not end at the Community Conversations. Internally, a team of dedicated staff was assembled to use the feedback to influence changes in Library programming. Progress is already being made, starting with the following list and growing every day:
    • The Library launched a digital Community Calendar where anyone can post community events.
    • Our Children’s Librarian has started an ongoing special story time at the Altadena Farmers Market to be more engaged outside the walls of the Library.
    • The Library has participated in Green Circle at the Farmer's Market with a booth offering eco-conscious books and Library information.
    • Library staff has been present at Parks After Dark.
    • One of the participants of the Community Conversations launched a monthly Open Mic Night at the Library on the last Tuesday of every month.
    • Partnering with Artisanal LA, the Library hosted a community event in November 2017, featuring live music, food trucks, and tables for community organizations.
    • Throughout 2018, the Library will hold semi-regular “block parties” for the community to gather and connect. 
    • The upcoming Taste of ’Dena fundraiser will support the development of an outdoor, interactive learning space and garden on the Library property that will support mobility around Altadena and offer expanded opportunities for outdoor learning in a safe place for youth.
    • SCORE business courses for local, aspiring entrepreneurs are in development at the Library.
    • Workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs were offered in December 2017 at the Library (covering business planning, permits, licensing, etc.) in partnership with a representative from LA County's Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.
    • The Library partnered with Dean Lee, of Mountain View News, to offer a 4-part workshop on citizen journalism in fall 2017.
    • A weekly Chess Club has started in result of being turned outward and being present at Parks After Dark.
    • A bilingual story time at Main Library and at the Branch began in the fall of 2017.
    • The Library now offers free printing and social media support for Neighborhood Associations and Watches in Altadena.
    • The Pacific Library Partnership (PLP) and NorthNet Library System (NLS) received an LSTA grant from the California State Library for the “Student Success Initiative.” Altadena Library was chosen as one of the libraries to be provided with support and technical assistance in partnering with local school districts to create a local Student Success Initiative, getting a library card in every student’s hands, in response to the Community Conversations priority of supporting the success of PUSD students.  

Meanwhile, progress is in the air throughout Altadena. Many community organizations have followed the Library's example in more actively engaging with their constituents, and much progress has been made in rallying the community into taking action.


Check back because this list continues to grow daily!


Thank you to all who attended the Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, April 27! It was a special evening full of productive conversations and planning for future progress!

Altadena Library is coordinating with the priority action groups that met at the second round of table discussions to determine best next steps for progress for each priority. We are committed to the conversations not ending at the Town Hall Meeting; we believe that progress can be achieved by groups of inspired and passionate individuals! In the meantime, please explore the notes below that were taken at your priority's table group and feel free to sign up to receive information on priority groups other than the one you chose if you did not have the chance at the Town Hall Meeting. Click the links below to quickly jump to your group's notes on this page:

NOTE: Some of the group notes are still being compiled. The information below may be augmented in the future as we further organize the notes from the Town Hall Meeting.

Maintain Altadena's Unique Character - "Keep Altadena Funky"

  • We stand alone:

    • Diversity

    • Creativity

    • Casualness

    • Arts/Art Community

    • Expressive

    • Only non-conforming community in the county (standards)

    • Streets with no sidewalks

  • Specifics we’d like to see:

    • Art festivals at Farnsworth Park

    • Restart open mic at Coffee Gallery

    • Small events around town to draw people together - music, storytelling, get togethers, farmer’s market events

    • Better information sharing

  • Existing groups for collaboration:

    • Open Studios

    • Library

    • Beautiful Altadena

  • Next Step:

    • Library will share info for people around the table

  • ISSUE:

    • CUSD

    • County Uniform Design Code

Community Cohesion/Center/Volunteerism
  • Groups Where You Can Volunteer:

    • Altadena Heritage

    • Reading Partners

    • Hospitals

    • Collaborate PASadena

    • Friends of Altadena Library

    • Senior Center

  • What excites you the most? What enhances community?

    • Volunteer recruitment

    • Door to door

    • Visible in high traffic areas

    • Big events (e.g. parade)

    • Publicity (banners, Facebook, Next Door, etc.)

  • What is good next step?

    • A channel of communication (local access TV, radio, social media)

    • Listserv (intragroup communication)

    • School, church, other established organizations

Commercial Business Hubs
  • Streamline permit process

  • Ease parking regulations

  • Church accountability - parking

  • Community dialogue with county planning

  • Disconnected business districts

    • Unify - Identity for each

  • Continue art emphasis down Lake Avenue, etc.

  • Merchants Associations by District - overarching association

  • Join business groups

    • Altadena Chamber

    • NBBA

    • Heritage

  • Partnerships

  • County buy-in

  • Involve planning/zoning

    • ATC - commercial representative

Library as the Hub/Center of the Community
  • Library “Multiplex”

  • Spaces for studios, classrooms, etc.

  • Have space for informal gathering w/coffee and food

  • “My City” approach for building momentum

Public Safety
  • Why are you passionate?

    • Small town act like Main have more input

    • Everything you need to do can be delivered by neighbor

    • Engage with each other strengthens community sense of ownership

    • Get out of the house away from the computer to see neighbors as humans

    • Like communities when I can hang out and enjoy the company, food

      • In this community, everyone remains isolated

  • Have a neighborhood block party with food - relaxes participants - brings people out

    • Individuals need to reach out to local neighbors

    • Part of this can be Map Your Neighborhood

    • Next Door is a good source

    • Phone list - email list

    • Get together via parties

    • Everyone has email/phone

    • Need to go door to door to participate for email list for communication

  • Map - Next Door - CERT

    • Open mic at Coffee Gallery - find a new location - Library?

    • 2nd Saturday at Library

    • Email from Sheriff’s Department public safety information (part of the problem is lack of communication)

    • Churches

    • Restart Altadena blog - improve Altadena Now

    • Front Yard Fridays - music get together

  • What is a good next step?

    • Need consistency - build neighborhood association

    • Group meetings that cover what neighbors want to address

Information Sharing/Communication
  • Recap of Town Council meetings

  • What’s Up in Altadena - Facebook/website

  • Central directory for all important numbers

  • Mountain View News needs better distribution


  • Need printed info, not just online

  • Next Door app

  • Need a trusted paper of record

  • Library as source

  • Getting info to those not online

  • Sharing info between groups (Council, NBBA, Chamber, Sheriff’s)

  • Next Step:

    • Library to convene a meeting with interested action group to discuss next steps

Government/Elected Officials
  • One-stop for permitting process

  • Ombadsman* to assist in process

  • Connecting with county government and department heads to affect “top priorities” holistically

  • Vetting of complaints without repercussions

  • Arbitrarily enforcing codes without historical context of the neighborhood

  • Town Council advocacy with county officials articulating neighborhood’s unique needs

  • Regular representatives from public works, build., and safety

Mobility - Walking, Biking, Riding, Driving
  • Exciting ideas, possibilities, recommendations:

    • Master Plan

    • Circuit: Bikes, walkers

    • Safe routes to schools (biking, walking)

    • Complete streets

    • Controlling parking, traffic

    • Walkability

  • Existing groups?

    • NBBA

    • Bike SGV

    • Pasadena Complete Streets

  • Next Steps:

    • NBBA Sub-Group

Civic Engagement/Advocacy/Activism
  • Why are you passionate about this issue area?

    • Rotary, activism, involved in community, advocacy - bus system

    • Theodore Payne - landscaping

  • What ideas/possibilities/recommendations in this area most excite you?

    • Hedges, yard sales, bus lines, parking at library - accessible

  • Are there any existing groups that might be good places for us to express our passion working on this issue?

    • Chamber - advocate

  • What is a next good step? Do we need to meet again?

    • Expand Altadena Now - Library as ADA

      • 1) Engage neighbors

      • 2) Become more active

      • 3) Advocate for change

      • 4) Be ready for change

    • Library as hub

      • A. Keep them informed (newspaper)

      • B. Communication online

      • C. Intergenerational (get young people)

      • D. Advocate with ATC

        • Sign petitions, walk neighborhoods, go to BOS as a group, languages accessible

      • E. Monthly meetings at Library

Support PUSD Schools in Altadena
  • More innovative learning

  • Value education

Want to receive information and updates from more priority groups? We will gladly add your name to the lists you choose below!