Census at the Library

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The Library is a proud partner of the 2020 census, which determines the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding. If you’re not already familiar, once every 10 years, the census counts every person residing in the 50 United States, DC, and five US territories. Data collected affects the country’s ability to ensure equal representation and access to government resources, directly affecting funding for schools, healthcare services, housing, transportation, and of course, libraries.

April 1 is officially Census Day, though the public may respond to the census earlier. If you are able to receive postal mail, you can look for your invitation to arrive in mid-March. The 2020 census is the first to encourage participation through online response. The invitation will provide a unique code allowing you to participate online, as well as information about how to answer the census by telephone or postal mail.

It’s important that the data collected is as accurate as possible. Undercounting can deny the community a full voice in policy decision-making (i.e. the number of seats in Congress each state gets) and reduce access to essential resources for those who need them most.

Whether you rent or own your home, every person in a household should be included in your census response. Newborns, children, non-permanent residents, immigrants, blended and multi-generational families––everyone should be counted for the census.

Data resulting from the census also helps organizations plan for the future. For the Library, this can mean developing outreach services and programming strategies to reach people in Monroe County’s diverse community, as well as planning for new branches and facilities.

If you don’t self-respond to the census by April 1, you can expect to receive reminders and/or visits from census workers in person. Public computers with reliable internet access are available for census use at the Main Library and Ellettsville Branch. The Census Bureau estimates that it will take approximately 10 minutes to complete the census.

Answers are anonymous and every census employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. The law ensures your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. Additionally, the Census Bureau will not email or text residents or ask for bank or credit card information.

As Census Day approaches, feel free to reach out to the Library staff to learn more. A program on January 20, “Getting the Most out of Heritage Quest,” will teach users how to use this genealogy database to find census information, among other things. Additionally, the Library’s Introduction to Government Resources series will offer a “History of the Census and How to Access Census Data” program on April 8.

For more information on the census, how to respond, and special circumstances, visit 2020census.gov.