Over $100 million federal dollars go to libraries each year, with distribution to states based on population. The Census results will affect at least $1 Billion of library funding over the next decade. Access this ALA report or go directly to the Counting for Dollars site.
What Can Libraries Do to Ensure an Accurate Count?
Resources bulleted below are available to help you ensure YOUR community is counted and provided with accurate funding.
- Preparing for the First Digital Census
The Digital Equity Laboratory recently released a manual for community based organizations, non-profits and libraries on Preparing for the First Digital Census (Google Drive PDF). It includes interactive exercises and handouts that cover concepts like data stewardship and privacy as well as creating a secure census kiosk. It was tested at a number of libraries in New York including a few rural Library Systems.
- Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census
The American Library Association and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality recently released the Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census, which you may have seen earlier in the Compendium. This guide packs a lot of useful information in 20 pages.
TIP FOR AN ACCURATE COUNT:
In addition to having computers available, your library may want to review its Internet/computer use policy. Does your library’s policy:
- Suspend a cardholder’s access to library computers and/or WiFi due to fines?
- Allow sufficient computer session time for patrons who may need longer to complete the Census or the Census worker online training?
- Strictly limit the number of guest passes a non-cardholder can request?
Computer restrictions may create barriers to participating in the Census, as well as job searching, distance learning, etc.
The Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census suggests that libraries “Prepare for increased use of library computers and the internet. Millions of Americans do not have broadband Internet service at home. Lacking reliable access to Internet can create a barrier to applying online for census jobs, completing online training for these jobs, and completing the online census form. Because libraries provide reliable Internet access, they will play an important role in supporting a complete count in the 2020 Census. Library workers can prepare for an uptick in need for these resources by considering how to speed up technology access for non-library card holders and how to handle peak demand — perhaps by designating one or more computers or mobile devices for “express” use or temporarily dedicating a device specifically for census response.”
Stacey Mulligan, Outreach Advisor at the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, will highlight future tips for your library to use in ensuring an accurate Census count!