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How a new mobile library is tackling literacy in an underserved community in Santa Barbara County

A New BookVan Has Launched Serving Isla Vista.

Libraries are, traditionally, buildings full of books - but a new "book van" has been launched in Santa Barbara County, aiming to bring library facilities to underserved parts of the county.

It may not look large from the outside, but it’s the aspirations which are sizable.

The aim of the new Isla Vista book van is to bring library facilities to this part of the community in Santa Barbara County.

Goleta Valley Library Director Allison Gray says the book van will not only hold around 500 books, but also provide a wider range of services.

"We have stocked it with all kinds of physical materials, as well as providing them with wireless access around the van so they can access the more than one million titles in our catalogue."

Gray says she hopes to be able to bring materials to as many age groups and cultural groups as possible.


"There's a lot of poverty and a lot on non-English speakers in this community.

"We have purchased quite a few Chinese and Spanish language books for our community. There's also a lack of transport.

"What we will do is visit all age groups, as many different cultural groups as we can," said Gray.

The project was funded by a state grant of $200,000 procured by Democratic State Senator Monique Limón of Santa Barbara.

She says focusing on literacy is important for the entire community.

"We are now going to the community, instead having the community come to us, particularly as it related to the literacy and digital divide.

"As as former educator, I see these books in front of me and think about what books do to expand the learning and professional and academic opportunities and what that means for our community as a whole," Limón told KCLU.

The Bookvan schedule repeats every two weeks and is available here on the Library’s website.

The stops include the Isla Vista Friendship Manor, St. George’s Teen Center, IV Community Center, Storke Community Center, Estero Park, Studio Plaza Apartments, Sea Lookout Park, Perfect Park, UCSB Early Childhood, West Campus Playground, and Isla Vista Elementary School.

Also, Little Libraries have been provided by the Goleta Valley Library to a number of spots in Isla Vista with more on order.

There will be a book return at the Isla Vista Community Center for people to return items early or if they cannot meet the Bookvan at one of its scheduled stops.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.