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2020 Census

The ten question Census will be largely digital for the first time, and there are a lot of communities and populations that stand to be left out of the count, including traditionally hard-to-count populations like New Americans, and people with limited access to internet and limited experience with technology.

There are a lot of things tied to the Census, including the basic tenets of democracy and representation in our State and Federal government, and, what resonates more with people in studies, state and federal funds received locally; young families are more likely to participate in the Census when they find out it affects funding for their community. Federal funding for Medicaid, local schools, highway planning and construction, CHIP, WIC, SNAP, HEAP, and more are distributed using formulas based on the decennial Census. Similar formulas based on the Census or based on formulas based on the Census are used to allocate state funding for programs like the Community Development Block Grant Program, and Census data is used for planning purposes by businesses and nonprofits. An inaccurate count will result in lost funding, which helps offset state and local funds, and reduced representation at the state and federal levels.

Libraries can help ensure a complete count by partnering with Community Based Organizations, local governments, and anyone interested in getting the word out about the Census. Libraries can also provide support as tech hubs and trusted organizations in their community.


  • United States Census Bureau
  • 2020 Census Complete Count Committee Guide – Complete Count Committees (CCC) are volunteer committees established by tribal, state, and local governments and community leaders or organizations to increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 Census.
  • Counting for Dollars Project – This project will identify all federal financial assistance programs relying Decennial Census-derived data to guide the geographic distribution of funds.
  • Libraries and the 2020 Census (ALA) – Brief on how and why libraries are an important part of Complete Count efforts all over the country.
  • Getting Ready for Census 2020 (NYLA)
  • Kids Count 2018 from Annie E. Casey Foundation – The 2010 U.S. Census failed to count almost 1 million children younger than age 5, and we could make the same mistake in the 2020 Census.
  • New York State Census Focus Groups with Families with Young Children – All participants were unaware that the census affected the levels of funding, and they generally felt that that is a crucial reason to fill out the census.
  • Hard to Count Population Map with Libraries – Hard to Count populations are communities and groups with historically low response rates to the Census including, young children, highly mobile persons, racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speakers, low income persons, persons experiencing homelessness, undocumented immigrants, persons who distrust the government, LGBTQ persons, persons with mental or physical disabilities, persons who do not live in traditional housing.
  • Broadband Access and Adoption Map by Census Tract
  • It Pays to be Counted – New York stands to lose $2,600 for each person that goes uncounted.
  • Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Study – Two-thirds of respondents are “extremely likely” or “very likely” to fill out a census form. Many people were unfamiliar with the census, with only 33 percent being “extremely” or “very” familiar. Knowledge about the purpose and process of the census was uneven across groups. The analysis revealed five barriers that might prevent people from participating in the census: concerns about data privacy and confidentiality, fear of repercussions, distrust in all levels of government, feeling that it doesn’t matter if you are counted, and belief that completing the census might not benefit you personally. Funding for public services was a top motivator across groups, yet less than half of respondents knew that the census is used to determine community funding.
  • Title 13, U.S. Code – The privacy of information recorded in the Census is taken very seriously. Private information is never published. It is against the law to disclose or publish any private information that identifies an individual or business such, including names, addresses (including GPS coordinates), Social Security Numbers, and telephone numbers. Violating the law is a serious federal crime. Anyone who violates this law will face severe penalties, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
  • Dollars And Census Planet Money Podcast – This podcast provides a quick 7 minute background on the Census, along with an overview of how the Census determines how much federal funding districts get, and how many congressional representatives they get to elect.
  • How the 2020 Census will invite everyone to respond – Outline and timeline of how the call for responses will be conducted from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Information on this page was borrowed from Mid-Hudson Library System.

Census 2020