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Libraries key to a fair, accurate 2020 Census, Senate appropriators say

Libraries are key to enabling participation in the upcoming 2020 Census, Senate appropriators said in a recent report.

In its June 14 report accompanying the fiscal year 2019 funding bill for the U.S. Census Bureau, the Senate Appropriations Committee commented:

The Committee urges the Census Bureau to conduct outreach to public libraries and other community technology centers to ensure that they are fully informed about the Internet self-response option for the 2020 Decennial Census and equipped to support residents in census participation. The Bureau should work with libraries, in coordination with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as part of the overall strategy to maximize survey response. 

Young girl wears colorful stickers reading "Census 2010" on her pink sweater.
A young resident of New York’s Chinatown shows off her census stickers at the Chatham Square Library. Photo credit: Rong Xiaoqing

Starting in 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to encourage residents to respond online to the once-a-decade survey. As with previous e-government efforts, many people may come to libraries to complete their Census form using library computers and internet, and to get help from library staff. Many libraries also may collaborate with the Census Bureau and community leaders to provide information about the upcoming Census.

ALA appreciates the committee’s support for libraries’ role in the 2020 Census and its directive encouraging the Census Bureau to include libraries in its planning and outreach. We are grateful for Sen. Jack Reed’s (D-RI) leadership in suggesting the language.

A growing number of decision makers, from the New York State Assembly to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, are recognizing the vital role that libraries will play in promoting a fair, accurate and inclusive count in 2020. To help libraries be prepared for the demands they may face arising from the 2020 Census, staff at the Census Bureau have begun working with ALA and libraries to identify appropriate resources, including by exhibiting at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference.

To learn more, visit ALA’s 2020 Census web page with information and resources for the library community, and check back as more resources are added through 2020.

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Gavin Baker

Gavin Baker is an assistant director of Government Relations. He advocates for library priorities on government information and transparency issues. Previously, he worked at California Common Cause, the Center for Effective Government / OMB Watch and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Gavin earned his M.S. in library and information studies from Florida State University and his B.A. in political science from the University of Florida.

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