Gone are the days of the door-to-door census taker — the 2020 Census will take place primarily online, even as many residents lack home internet access.
Helping people who use your library's public computers or Wi-Fi to complete their census survey online next spring can benefit your community in the future, because every individual counted helps to maximize federal and state funding for municipal services. Assignment of House of Representatives seats, federal funding apportionment, and our own LSTA "Grants to States" award are all based on the decennial census!
According to the American Library Association, 99% of the hard-to-count census tracts are within five miles of a public library.
This demonstrates why it is so important that the library as a trusted community entity, get involved in helping their community and state achieve a complete count.
For the first time, the Census Bureau will promote online response as the preferred method. Households have the option to respond to the census questionnaire in one of three ways: online, by telephone, or using a paper questionnaire. For many people, the online response option will make it easier and more convenient to respond. 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.
ALA's free Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census contains practical information to assist you and your staff in addressing potential patron and community requests regarding the upcoming 2020 Census. It includes basic information about the Census process, highlights of new components in the 2020 Census, such as the online response option, a FAQ, and a timeline of key Census dates.
Bonus: you can also register to attend a free Libraries and the 2020 Census webinar at
9am 1pm on June 25th July 1st.
Expect more resources and support for library staff in the months leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020, from both ALA and DPI.
• Libraries and the 2020 Census: Vital Partners for a Complete Count
• Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census
• ALA releases new Libraries' Guide to the 2020 Census
• Census 2020 – Complete Count
• Census 2020-- Libraries Can Make it Count