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Oakland Public Library Launches a Mobile Outreach Vehicle (MOVe)

The pop-up library brings books, music, and tech to disadvantaged kids in Oakland.


The MOVe features murals designed by students from MetWest High and participants from the Dragon School arts organization.

Photos by Sharon McKellar

When the MOVe (or Mobile Outreach Vehicle) pulled up at the Fruitvale Night Market, everyone took notice. And it’s easy to see why: The bright blue vehicle—which is covered in vibrant murals designed by Oakland teens and community artists—instantly attracts the eye. By the time the panels are removed to reveal a wealth of books, technology, and crafts, people are hooked.

“We’ve already had the request [for] more MOVes,” says the Oakland Public Library’s Lana Adlawan.

The MOVe is the brainchild of the Oakland Public Library. “We wanted to connect with underserved youths and bring the library to them,” says Lana Adlawan, the library’s acting associate director. “So we came up with [the idea of] creating a mobile outreach vehicle.”

Keeping its goal in mind, the library hosted a series of focus groups with disadvantaged kids between the ages of 10 and 18. “Their ideas and concepts really built the vehicle,” Adlawan says.

The resulting MOVe is truly a product of collaboration and innovation, featuring everything from video games to a popcorn machine on occasion. With design help from Gyroscope and fabrication work by Sheet Metal Alchemist—two Oakland companies—the all-electric vehicle was unveiled to the public on May 11. Before long, it was booked for events throughout the summer.

 Books available for borrowing—plus screens and art—are on display behind the truck’s panels.

Given the project’s success, the Oakland Public Library is already brainstorming new services the MOVe could offer. “For the future, we imagine [hosting] coding classes and more at some of our local youth nonprofits,” Adlawan says. “Anything is possible with this vehicle.”

To find the MOVe, visit oaklandlibrary.org.

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