Altadena's Big Issue

Photo Credit: Pasadena Star News

Photo Credit: Pasadena Star News

Nationwide midterm election — fuhgeddaboutit! say Altadena politicos. The really big issue on the November ballot is the one for Library District trustees.
— Larry Wilson, Pasadena Star News, 7-31-18

Today the Pasadena Star News reported what those of us in Altadena have known for the past year - that Altadena's Library race this fall is critical to our community and to our local governance.

It's tempting to portray the Altadena Library race as national politics writ small: after all, there's collusion, accusations of secrecy and malfeasance, outrage over gender-based discrimination, and more drama than you can shake a stick at.

But I think the Altadena Library race is actually representative of national movements in a much more profound way. We live in one of the most diverse communities in Los Angeles County, but how representative of that diversity are our politics, our representatives, and our policies? Our marquee public institution - the Library - is paid for largely by property tax dollars, and steeply rising home values mean that while the Library is well funded, some of those who most need its services can barely afford to live here.

Then there are the bigger questions: where do we get our information, how informed are we, and what holds a community together? In an age of instant Googling, what is the role of a Library?

I'd argue that libraries generally - and our Altadena Library specifically - are more important than they have ever been. If we're bold enough, and innovative enough, and if we work together, we here in Altadena can create something that has never existed before: a model of a library that truly works in the twenty-first century, that serves and responds to the needs of a vibrant and diverse community, and that reminds all of us why libraries are the cornerstone of a free and independent electorate.

This fall, Altadena will have the chance to vote on what the future of our town should look like. And despite all that's gone on during the past year, I am very optimistic that it will be a bright one.

Katie E. Clark