It seems like years have passed since we starting preparing for the 2020 census at libraries across the state! Since then, the nation has experienced many ups and downs. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 census has continued to make headlines. In March, the Census Bureau had delayed field operations for the census until a new schedule was finalized. Data collection for the 2020 census is final on Sept.30, so now is the time to encourage the public to complete it if they haven’t already done so. Patrons can go online, call 844-330-2020 or mail back the form they received in the mail in order to complete the census. For patrons who speak languages other than English, see the responding by phone section on the census page. Census workers are now going door-to-door across the nation, making phone calls and sending email to those who haven’t responded. The goal is to get every single person counted by the deadline.
Because libraries have not been open, we’ve experienced a gap in our ability to promote the 2020 census. As we return to serving the public, libraries that are open by appointment can welcome patrons to answer the census at their library. Libraries not yet open can still create displays, offer handouts during curbside service and hang signs to encourage patrons to answer the 2020 census now. Libraries remain an essential part of the effort to notify the public that there is only one month left to finish this momentous task! We still have at least 20% of Hoosiers to count in September. Hoosiers depend on this once-in-a-decade count to shape the future of our legislative representation, public services and fiscal planning for all Indiana neighborhoods. The people won’t be counted one-by-one again until 2030.
For the past two years, 2020 census supporters have used creative strategies for reminding the public to answer the census. In Circle Pines, Minnesota, a city councilman dressed up as Census Man to bring attention to the importance of the 2020 census for apportionment. Not to be topped, the Chicago mayor announced last month that the Census Cowboy would arrive on horseback to help out in neighborhoods with low counts. It’s here that people will most need the public services funded using census counts. Here in Indiana, people can use our Race for a Complete Count graphics to view the progress of different areas of the state. If response rates aren’t measuring up in your part of Indiana, it’s not too late to make a difference. Our goal is to remind people as much as possible during this last month. Our Census in Indiana website is full of ideas and resources.
The new 2020 census deadline, while extended due to COVID-19, is still very tight. We need to amplify our message even louder for communities with low counts. We’ll share additional tools and tips on Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. in our webinar, “Return to the Future: Your 2020 Census.” Register for the webinar here. You can help census response in your community by requesting a partnership specialist from the Census Bureau to set up a mobile questionnaire assistance event. Census workers will set up socially-distanced tables for online response to the census on site. Contact the Indiana State Data Center for details.
This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.