As trusted institutions with a far-reaching geographic presence, libraries are uniquely positioned to help ensure young children are counted in the 2020 Census. There are nearly 17,000 public library locations across the United States, and 99% of hard-to-count census tracts have a public library located within five miles. There are also more than 98,000 school libraries nationwide.
Libraries have extensive contact with young children and their parents, guardians, and caregivers through programs and services such as storytimes. They also reach out to diverse communities and coordinate with other organizations and agencies that serve children. In addition, public libraries offer computers and internet access, which people can use to complete the census questionnaire online.
As an example of an innovative activity at a library to promote a complete count of young kids, the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix, AZ, recently hosted My First Census (Mi Primer Censo), a picture day with young kids (and their parents/guardians) to commemorate the first time they’ll be listed on a census form.
To help address the undercount of young children, child advocates and service providers should partner with local libraries. For instance:
• Invite libraries to participate on Complete Count Committees and get-out-the-count efforts.
• Host community programs and census outreach activities in libraries.
• Share messages about the 2020 Census with local libraries and encourage them to disseminate through appropriate channels (e.g. bulletin boards, social media, etc.).
Libraries are vital community partners for addressing the undercount of young children and achieving a complete count in the 2020 Census. Learn how community leaders can partner with libraries to achieve a complete count, or find all of the American Library Association’s Census resources at ala.org/census.