The following document contains handouts that were submitted as part of the first ever Northeast Adult Programmers (NAP) Meetup that was held on February 25, 2016, at the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey.
This was an informal day of sharing ideas, lightning talks and a chance for those in libraryland who spend their days planning and delivering programs for adults to exchange ideas for programs and discuss ways to improve the planning process — and much more.
The White House announced on July 11 that it would abandon efforts to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, removing a major distraction from preparations for this constitutionally mandated headcount. But the achievement is only one milestone in advocates’ work to support a complete count.
The Supreme Court had ruled against the administration’s addition of the question on June 27 and sent the issue back to lower courts. The July 11 announcement brought a final close to the debate for 2020. This was a big win for all advocates for a fair, inclusive, and accurate decennial census, including the American Library Association (ALA).
Research indicated that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would likely suppress and distort responses, leaving many residents uncounted and reducing the quality of the data. While the administration still plans to gather information about the citizenship of US residents, the data will be compiled from existing government records, rather than asked on the census questionnaire. Statistical data—like census responses themselves—by law can be used only for statistical purposes. Individual information will remain confidential.
Ensuring that people have accurate information about the 2020 Census will be critical in the wake of concerns about a possible citizenship question. Library staffers and other trusted voices in our communities can help make sure people know:
The 2020 Census will not ask respondents about their citizenship.
Filling out the census form is important and safe. A complete count is vital to ensuring political representation, and federal funding is properly allocated based on all the people who live in our cities and towns. Communities that are undercounted are disadvantaged both economically and politically.
US law provides strong confidentiality protections and safeguards for census responses. The law prohibits the US Census Bureau from sharing personal census responses with any other government agency, the court of law, or private entity for any purpose, including law enforcement. Census Bureau staff who have access to personal information are sworn for life to protect confidentiality. They are subject to a $250,000 fine and/or up-to five years in federal prison for wrongful disclosure of information.
The Census Bureau will never ask for a bank or credit card number, Social Security number, a payment, or donation. People can check if they have questions about mail, email, phone calls, or visits that claim to come from the Census Bureau.
In addition to fighting misinformation, disinformation, and scams, there are other steps library leaders can take now to make sure everyone counts (and is counted).
Participate in and coordinate with state and local Complete Count Committees. These volunteer committees are established by tribal, state, and local governments, as well as community leaders, to increase awareness and encourage residents to respond to the 2020 Census. The committees will also have information about any funding opportunities or promotional materials available to support census outreach.
Help community members apply for census jobs. The Census Bureau will hire about 500,000 temporary workers, including census takers, office staff, and supervisory staff. The census job site provides information about job opportunities, pay rates, and online application.
ALA releases new Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the American Library Association released theLibraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census, a new resource to prepare libraries for the decennial count of every person living in the United States.
“Next year, when people begin to receive mail asking them to complete the census, we know that many of them will have questions about it. ALA’s new Guide is to make sure library workers have answers,” said ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo. “Working to ensure a fair, accurate, and inclusive census aligns with our professional values and the needs of the diverse communities we serve.”
The U.S. census is required by the Constitution and determines congressional representation; district boundaries for federal, state, and local offices; and allocation of more than $800 billion annually in federal funding to states and localities, such as grants under the Library Services and Technology Act. Libraries across the country provide access to a plethora of statistical data published by the U.S. Census Bureau and help businesses, government agencies, community organizations, and researchers find and use the information.
highlights of new components in the 2020 Census, such as the online response option;
frequently asked questions;
a timeline of key Census dates;
contact information and links to additional resources.
“Every day, library staff connect people with statistical information compiled by the Census Bureau,” said ALA Census Task Force Chair and Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library Deputy Director Tracy Strobel. “Libraries can help make sure that data is accurate by supporting a complete and inclusive count of all people in our communities.”
Public libraries are uniquely positioned to reach groups designated by the Census Bureau as “hard-to-count” because libraries serve everyone in their communities. Traditionally undercounted populations include young children, people of color, linguistic minorities and people experiencing homelessness. The undercounting of these groups can undermine their political power and reduce access to crucial public and private resources in the communities where they live. According to a City University of New York Graduate Center analysis, 99 percent of hard-to-count areas are located within five miles of a public library.
“We only have one shot every 10 years to get this right,” Strobel said. “I encourage library staff across the country to read the Guide and be fully prepared to meet this demand. The ALA Census Task Force is committed to supporting libraries in this critical national effort.”
In addition to the 18-page guide, ALA will continue to add resources to ala.org/census for library practitioners in the months leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020. A panel of experts will discuss the Guide and census topics in a session at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibits on Sunday, June 23, at 9 a.m. in room 145B of the Washington Convention Center.
To download the Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census and subscribe to ALA’s 2020 Census newsletter, visit ALA’s 2020 Census web page, ala.org/census, which also contains links to ALA policy statements about the census and primary data sources.
Census data has been an indispensable tool in allocating resources, justifying new services, and advocating for funding. Libraries have long played a role in the creation and consumption of that data, and in 2020, our role will be more important than ever. The 2020 Census will be the first in its 230-year history that can be taken online, and libraries will need to be prepared and engaged to ensure an inclusive and complete count of our nation’s residents. In anticipation of this historical shift—and with 25% of housing units in the US without internet access—the American Library Association (ALA) is investigating what this will mean for public libraries across the country.
On October 25 at the Chicago Public Library, ALA—alongside partners Forefront, Voices for Illinois Children, and the US Census Bureau—explored how to create the most inclusive count possible. This meeting was part of a Census Solutions Workshop, one of many being hosted around the country. The room was packed with nearly 80 participants, including roughly a dozen from Illinois libraries; Illinois Library Association Executive Director Diane Foote; representatives from the US Census Bureau; two Cook County Commissioners; Robert Rivkin, the City of Chicago’s deputy mayor; and Illinois State Rep. Theresa Mah.
During the workshop, attendees worked on challenge questions, such as:
How might we improve response rates among hard-to-count populations? These populations include African-American men, ages 18–24; seniors; new Americans; mobile millennials, and persons experiencing homelessness.
How might libraries and other education and community institutions serve as hubs for Census response, including outreach, promotion, and allowing online participation onsite? What resources can we provide?
How can libraries and librarians help in taking the Census to the streets, such as to grocery stores or day care centers, in vans that include assistance and technology to complete the form online?
According to a study by the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York, a public library is located within five miles of 99% of hard-to-count census tracts identified with the lowest response rates in 2010—and 73% of the time a library is located within one mile. As Forefront’s President and CEO Eric Weinheimer remarked, “If not us, who? If not now, when? The need for a complete census calls us to action.”
ALA is engaging with community stakeholders to ensure that libraries are invited to and represented in the policy discussions and planning process. For example, Nashville (Tenn.) Public Library Director Kent Oliver spoke at the National Association of Counties conference in July. Earlier in October, ALA released a brief for policymakers, funders, and community partners.
Libraries are directly affected by the Census through population-based federal funding such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services grants to states under the Library Services and Technology Act. And this effect is magnified many times for other vital programs that serve our most vulnerable communities—federal funding for Medicaid, public housing, and the National School Lunch Program, to name a few. Working to ensure a complete count is fundamentally an issue of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Getting Ready for the 2020 Census (From American Libraries Magazine)
The upcoming 2020 Census will have repercussions for communities—and libraries—around the US. Library staff members and supporters can help keep their communities informed by participating in a Complete Count Committee (CCC).
CCCs provide information to community members about the Census. State, local, or tribal governments or community-based organizations form the committees and invite public officials and community leaders to participate. Most CCCs include representatives from a broad range of industries and organizations because so many segments of a community have a stake in ensuring a fair, accurate, and inclusive Census. In a given city, for instance:
A parent-teacher organization might be concerned with a full count of the city’s children to maximize education funding.
An Asian-American organization might aim for complete participation by its community’s members to increase their visibility (and perhaps argue for a city council district representing their neighborhoods).
A chamber of commerce might seek accurate data about the area’s workforce and consumer market.
By working together, these varied interests can leverage their different resources, constituencies, and communications channels to promote an inclusive count, which benefits the entire community.