The United States Census Bureau is conducting the constitutionally-mandated 2020 census largely online. An accurate and complete count of United States residents is important for the following reasons (from ALA’s census overview).
- Representation: The decennial count of all U.S. residents is required by the U.S. Constitution to determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College (known as reapportionment). This data is also the basis for drawing districts for federal, state, and local offices (known as redistricting).
- Funding: The Census is key to the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding to states and localities (such as grants to states under the Library Services and Technology Act).
- Information: Data resulting from the Census is widely used by researchers, governments, businesses, and other organizations (for example, to plan for library services).
Libraries are a logical resource for residents to learn about the census as well as complete their census survey. Libraries, as community partners, are positioned to inform their communities through flyers as well as hosting census workshops.
- Contacts with Community: Libraries are trusted local entities, who provide education and outreach to their communities. Libraries assist their members with job seeking, identifying social services, directions to apply of unemployment, and other social supports. Libraries are often places where hard-to-count populations visit and interact.
- Physical Space: Libraries are central places to host workshops, census temporary worker recruitment and trainings, and other gathering of people. During the lead up to the 2010 census, libraries were critical partners in this regard.
- Internet and Computer Access: For the estimated 24 million Americans without high-speed internet access at home, the library is one of the few, free locations to access the internet. Libraries are logical places to house a census-taking kiosk. Libraries may also creatively get out in the community with mobile hotspots.
- Census Statistics: Librarians assist data users, including businesses, governments, academics, and local nonprofits in researching, accessing, collecting, and organizing census data for analysis.
Resources from the US Census Bureau
- Ada and Canyon County Regional Complete Count Committee
- Census 2020 and Libraries FAQ (PDF slide deck from ICfL webinar)
- Census 2020 and Libraries webinar, February 11, 2020. Census Bureau, librarians, ICfL
- Census 2020 Flyer from the ICfL
Radio Spot contracted by the ICfL:
Video Spot contracted by the ICfL: