The decennial census is coming up in 2020, and libraries will be essential partners in ensuring a complete count! For one thing, libraries are trusted in our communities; for another, this is the first census intended to be completed mostly online and libraries offer both internet access and people willing to help. The Illinois State Library urges libraries to allow all individuals to use public access computers, tablets, or library Wi-Fi to enter their census information, regardless of library card status.
A complete count is not only mandated in the U.S. Constitution; it's essential for states in order to be allocated the appropriate number of Congressional representatives, federal funding dollars, Electoral College electors, and so on.
There are a number of organizations planning for the census nationwide and here in Illinois; here is an index to who they are and what they are doing. If you have a resource to suggest, please email ILA Executive Director Diane Foote at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get ready to get counting!
- The American Library Association offers a great deal of general information about the upcoming census, why it's important, and the role of libraries, including a downloadable brief for decision makers "Libraries and the 2020 Census," an article "Getting Ready for the 2020 Census: Partnering with Complete Count Committees," ALA's position on the citizenship question, an archived recording of the 2/26/19 webinar "Libraries and the 2020 Census," and much more. NEW resource: "Libraries' Guide to the 2020 Census." Stay informed with ALA's 2020 Census e-newsletter.
- Forefront is (from its website): "(a) statewide membership association for nonprofits, grant-makers, public agencies, advisors, and our allies. We provide education, advocacy, thought leadership, and facilitate collective action around issues that are important to our Members and to the sector." Forefront's Democracy Initiative focuses on the 2020 census, and has organized a steering committee around the census, on which ILA is represented by Executive Director Diane Foote.
- The Illinois Complete Count Commission, housed in the Secretary of State's office, is the official body responsible for the count in the state. The Commission offers resources including a grant for census outreach, a November 2018 interim report to the Illinois General Assembly, information about subcommittees and Local Complete Count Committees, including links to find out of there already is one in your community and/or how to join or create one, a fact sheet about Local Complete Count Committees, downloadable brochures in several languages, and more.
- The Illinois State Library is hosting a poster contest for students in grades 4-12; submissions are open May 1 though June 17, 2019. Chief Deputy Director Joe Natale presented an informative session at Reaching Forward South in Carbondale on May 17, and will present also at the upcoming ILA Annual Conference in Tinley Park, October 22-24, 2019. ISL requests that libraries make public access computers available to all who wish to complete the census online in the library, regardless of residency or library card status.
- Rock the Vote has produced a video with a call to action to pledge to complete the census; it can be shared in communities.
- The Urban Institute has produced a report about potential pitfalls in ensuring a complete count in 2020, "Assessing Miscounts in the 2020 Census."
- The U.S. Census Bureau is the federal body charged with administering the census.
- U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago Regional Office covers not only Chicago and Illinois, but also the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, and Indiana. Job opportunities are listed here.