Photograph of Eleventh Census United States 1890 on shelf

Census Resources for Libraries


Re-thinking Census 2020 Outreach—Your Questions Answered – Hosted by OhioNET
Recorded on Tuesday, April 14

Presenters: Erin Kelsey, Cindy Boyden, and Kirstin Krumsee (State Library of Ohio)
**This is a free recorded session, open to all library staff working in Ohio.**

Virginia Hyer from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Information Office explains that college students that normally live at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily living somewhere else due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Click here to view a recording of Coming to Our Census: What Libraries Can Do to Get Out the Count a webinar hosted by the State Library on November 6, 2019.

*An edited version of the presentation was uploaded on 1/31/2020 to remove a slide that had a misleading QR code.  We will provide an updated slide with new information and include it in the upcoming webinar on February 20 from 2-3 p.m. A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend. Register here.

2020 Census PSA: Census Made Simple (2:20). This U.S. Census Bureau video combines five PSAs into one easy-to-understand story about the 2020 Census. Watch this to learn what the 2020 Census is, how data are used and secured, how it affects representation, and how you can complete it.

There are numerous ways libraries can be involved in ensuring that all Ohio residents are counted in Census 2020.  The Census is important for many reasons:

  • It determines representation in Congress and the Electoral College, and the data is used to draw districts for federal, state, and local offices.
  • A complete count determines the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding to states (LSTA grant, Pell grants, Medicare, funding for social service agencies, etc.)
  • Public Library Funds are distributed to counties based on Census data.
  • Census data is widely used by researchers, libraries, governments, and businesses.

For the first time in United States history, the forthcoming Census will offer an online option to respond. In Ohio, there are many libraries that serve areas with limited internet connectivity and have historically been hard for the Census Bureau to count. As community hubs with internet access, libraries will play a critical role in ensuring all Ohioans are counted.  Libraries are essential to every community, campus, student, and patron that come through its doors or connects online.

But that’s not all. Library staff can use their trusted role to answer questions, provide resources, and educate their users about the importance of the Census.  Not only can we be a place to complete the census, libraries can partner with other agencies, businesses, and institutions in their communities to get the word out and reach hard-to-count areas.  Many libraries communicate every day with some of the most at risk- minorities, immigrants, homeless, and low-income persons. Staff can leverage their relationships with their patrons and the community- and explain the importance of completing the Census.

The Census is extremely important to our democracy and helps ensure the strength of our libraries and our communities. It also helps us understand who we are. Libraries are in a great position to support our communities to get out the count for the 2020 Census.

For suggestions for the site or questions, contact Erin Kelsey, library consultant at the State Library of Ohio at

UPDATED Census timeline due to COVID-19


2020 Census Operational Timeline – The projected timeline from the US Census Bureau for the completion on the 2020 Census.

Road to the 2020 Census[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Ohio Initial Contact Strategies – Color-coded map that indicates how the Census Bureau will invite households to participate in the 2020 Census.

Mapping Hard to Count (HTC) Communities for a Fair and Accurate 2020 Census – An online mapping tool showing historically hard-to-count areas around the country. You can also view local resources in hard-to-count areas such as public library branches.

How the Census is used in Ohio: 

  • Budget planning for all levels of government
  • Drawing school district boundaries and even school lunches
  • Planning for hospitals, nursing homes and other health services
  • Directing funds to services for people living in poverty
  • Developing assistance programs for low-income families
  • Designing facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities
  • Attracting new business
  • Investment planning
  • Top 10 Ways the Decennial Census Affects You
  • Planning future housing needs
  • Reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives

Importance of the Data – The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of our nation—our population, where we live, and so much more.

Impact in Your Community – The results, collected once a decade, help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year.

2020 Census Safety and Security Fact Sheet – A resource sheet from the US Census Bureau detailing how your safety and privacy will be ensured when completing the 2020 Census.

How the 2020 Census will invite everyone to respond – A printable fact sheet explaining how the 2020 Census will be conducted.

Any data I submit in the Census can be used against me.

Federal law protects your census responses. Title 13 of the U.S. Code guarantees that the Census Bureau cannot share your information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI or any other state or federal agency or individual. The U.S. government will not release personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it was collected for the decennial census.

See: US Supreme Court Case, Baldridge v. Shapiro, 455 U.S. 345 (1982)
US Attorney General Opinion, Census Confidentiality and the PATRIOT Act
The “72-Year Rule” Public Law 95-416

The Census only needs to be completed by U.S. Citizens.

Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution as updated by the 14th Amendment states that all persons, not all citizens, must be counted in the Census.

I don’t think the census has any impact on my life.

If you use our roads, parks or even your public library, the Census has an impact on your life. Federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants and Federal Direct Student Loans, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) among numerous other programs are distributed based on the results of the Census.

Additionally, the State of Ohio uses Census data to calculate how much money to provide to counties and cities for local programs.

See: Counting for Dollars 2020: Ohio

It doesn’t matter if I’m counted.

For every resident counted, the state of Ohio brings in over $1,200 for services that benefit you and your community. Responding to additional questions about you and your household ensures that money is allocated to better serve you. I

See: Counting for Dollars 2020: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds Report #2

Only adults need to be counted in the Census.

Everyone needs to be counted in the Census. In fact, children from 0-4 are consistently the most undercounted community. Knowing how many children are in each household helps ensure that dollars go to supporting the needs of children and families across the state.

I always count my child at home.

Wherever a person sleeps 51% (or more) of the time is where they should be counted. There are processes in place to ensure that students who live in residents’ halls are counted at their schools. The same is true for families that have divided custody of a child. Wherever the child more frequently sleeps is where the child should be counted.

Completing the Census is optional.

Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution requires a complete count of everyone living in the country every 10 years. The decennial census is not voluntary. This is true for citizens and non-citizens, children and adults, everyone in the whole country must be counted. Having an accurate account matters in regard to our reality as a country for the next decade. We need to know who lives where and what their needs are.

I have to complete the 2020 Census online.

In the 230 years that the United States has conducted the census, the 2020 Census is the first to allow households to submit their responses online, but there are other ways to respond as well. There will be a phone number you can call to submit your responses. You can also request a paper form. People who do not submit their census forms in one of these three formats will likely receive a visit from a census worker.

I can’t submit an incomplete Census form online.

According to federal law, people residing in the US must answer all questions on the census. However, the online portal will allow you to submit an incomplete census form. Not answering all of the questions may increase your chance of having a census worker visit your home and you could be subject to a fine.

See: 13 U.S.C. 221 – Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers

There’s a short form and a long form.

In the 20th century, most addresses received a short form, while a portion of addresses received a more detailed long form. This changed after the 2000 Census. Now everyone in the country will receive the same 10 questions. The more detailed socioeconomic information once collected via the long-form questionnaire is now collected by the American Community Survey.

Census Press Kit – All you need to know about Census marketing and guidelines.

Video Guide to Completing the 2020 Census Online

This video will introduce you to the 2020 Census, present a quick overview of the online questionnaire, and help you answer the questions.


*To acquire Census logos, you will have to request them. Information is in the press kit, but this could take a few business days.

Other images from ALA and the Census:

#CountOnLibraries Campaign -(From ALA)

Because Librarians Believe Everyone Counts  (JPG)

Because Good Decisions Depend on Good Data (JPG)

Census Map (JPG)

         Additional images for signage


2020 Census at a Glance (PDF flyer)

How You Will Be Contacted to Participate in Census (PDF flyer) (Spanish version)

2020 Census and Confidentiality (PDF flyer) (Spanish version)

Why We Ask (PDF flyer)

County for Dollars 2020- The role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal FundsOhio

How Community Leaders Can Partner with Libraries to Achieve a Complete Count (ALA PDF flyer)

Promotional ideas

  • Use your County or local planning commission logo or the ALA graphics to create buttons, stickers, or posters.
  • Some libraries are purchasing mouse pads and computer screen frames to get the word out via public internet terminals.
  • Put a reminder message on check-out receipts.

Talking Points

  • Youth Services/Youth Programming- (during storytime or in youth program

“Welcome to the library for storytime (insert name of program)! We’ll be doing a lot of counting during storytime today. We want to get the word out about the census and be a resource for questions. Libraries, roads, school programs, and more depend on an accurate census count and children are one of the lowest counted group! Let me know if you have questions after storytime or check out our Census table near the checkout.”

  • (At circulation or reference desk or before an adult program)

“The library is partnering with other community organizations to get the word out about the Census. This year it’s going to be primarily done online.  Check out our Census resource table or ask any library staff member for help filling out the online Census form.


Sample Training Plans

Outreach Materials

Promotional Materials for Specific Groups – many downloadable documents and web resources on awareness and security geared toward specific groups. For example- LGBTQ+, Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, etc.

Census 2020 website in Spanish

Social Media Content– suggested posts (PDF). Social Media Graphics images

Libraries and the 2020 Census (PDF) – Talking points from ALA

Schools and Educators

The Census website has a variety of resources to use in the classroom. Many of the curriculum guides and classroom activities can be adapted for library programs.

Statistics In Schools – The resources on this page help bring school subjects (and library programs) to life using Census Bureau Statistics. They are easy to use, boost statistical literacy, and designed by teachers.

Program kits/guides for all ages

Coloring pages– English and Spanish

Talking points before a program: Mention census resources during storytime announcements- Find a few myths to dispel for parents:

“We’ll be doing a lot of counting during storytime today. We want to get the word out about the census and be a resource for questions.  Libraries, roads, etc. depend on an accurate census count and children are commonly the lowest counted group.  So let me know if you have questions after storytime!!”

Census Storybook (in Spanish and English) – This printable story explains the Census to a young child and their caregiver.

Trivia game for teens/tweens with census facts

Teachers’ Guide to Data Access Tools for Students

State facts – help students (and library patrons) learn about their state as they collect, organize, analyze, map and graph information.

Curriculum and Activities for Teachers and Library Media Specialists by grade level:






Census Counts 2020 – Links to a variety of organizations promoting census participation

Every community is different; please consider any of the following organizations as potential collaborators:

School Districts

Day Care facilities

Universities, Colleges

Faith-based organizations such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples

Food banks


Social Service Agencies (OH Job & Family Services, Community Refugee & Immigration Services, ADAMH, Legal Aid)

Community Organizations (Rotary, Volunteers of America, Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis, Better Business Bureau)

Senior centers & senior living facilities

Free clinics

Ohio’s Regional Census Office – find printable materials under the Census Partners tab

YWCA’s – on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women, YWCA’s have been at the forefront of the biggest issues of the day for over 160 years, working to improve the lives of women, girls and communities of color through advocacy, local programming and services.  Find your local area Ohio YWCA via the link provided.

YMCA’s – an inclusive organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.  Find your local area Ohio YMCA via the link provided.

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of others.  Through its network of volunteers, donors and partners, the Red Cross is always there in times of need.

Ohio Chapters include:

Central Ohio

North Central Ohio

West Central Ohio

East & South-Central Ohio

Southeast Ohio

Northwest Ohio

Transportation Authorities

COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority)

RTA (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority)

Go-METRO (Cincinnati area transit provider)

TARTA (Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority)

WRTA (Western Reserve Transit Authority – Youngstown area)

The United Way – the United Way’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.  Find your local area Ohio United Way chapter via the link provided.

The Children’s Defense Fund – the Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. Find more information about the CDFOhio via the link provided.

Historically speaking, these federal agencies have been involved, directly or tangentially, with the Census or census data. 

USDA Economic Research Service

US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Social Security Administration

National Science Foundation

Environmental Protection Agency

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Program Ideas

  • From Perry County Library- the library will host a Perry County family night event featuring Pete the Cat. The event will include six activity stations for families to enjoy.  All stations are based on kids counting books–Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Bear Counts, and Everyone Counts. We will serve popcorn and sno-cones, have an informational table for adults, and kids will receive the census coloring book.  Our Job & Family Services RV  (mobile computer lab) will be on-site with volunteers from many county agencies/businesses to assist people in completing their census while the kids are having fun!
  • Plan a “Stuffed Animal Sleepover and Counting game” where kids can bring in their stuffed animals to spend the night at the library. Staff can take photos of the stuffed animals having fun at the library and there can also be a counting game to raise awareness to the upcoming Census.

Map of Ohio showing county borders and stars in areas where Ohio Census Committee members are locatedThe Ohio Library 2020 Census Committee aims to provide resources to public, school, academic and special libraries to help them navigate the process. Libraries are essential to every community, campus, student, and patron that come through its doors or connects online. Library staff can use their trusted role to answer questions, provide resources, and educate their users about the importance of the Census.

The objectives of the committee are to assist the State Library of Ohio in disseminating up-to-date information about the Census to library staff all over Ohio and to maintain the Census Resource Page.

Ohio Library 2020 Census Committee Members:




  • Anne Christensen, Adult Services Library – Worthington Park Library, Worthington Libraries
  • Traci Higgins, Information Technology Manager – Delaware County District Library
  • Lauren Lemmon, Adult Services Manager – Marysville Public Library
  • Kristin McCormick, Adult Services Librarian – Old Worthington Library, Worthington Libraries
  • Carla Mello – Manager, Ohio as America – Ohio History Connection
  • Lisa Morrison, Social Sciences Liaison Librarian – Denison University
  • Susan Shipe-Giles, Adult Services Librarian – Bexley Public Library
  • Cora Slack, Adult Services Librarian – Worthington Park Library, Worthington Libraries
  • Sarah Whybrew, Digital Initiatives Librarian – Otterbein University


  • Stacie Anderson, Adult Services Librarian – Shaker Heights Public Library
  • Jodie DeLamatre, Adult Services Librarian – Hudson Library and Historical Society
  • Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz, Director -Lorain Public library System
  • Elly Pastor, Emerging Technology Specialist – Orrville Public Library
  • John Skutnik, Business and Government Librarian – Akron Summit County Public Library
  • Robin Wood, Assistant Director of Public Services – Cleveland Public Library


  • Luke Bentley, Assistant Director – Guernsey County District Public Library
  • Judy Carey Nevin, Director, Hannah V. McCauley Library – Ohio University Lancaster
  • Becky Schaade, Director – Fairfield County District Library


  • Tamar Kreke, Adult and Technical Services Coordinator – Greene County Public Library
  • Brad Spurlock, Public Services Librarian – Hamilton Lane Public Library


  • Eric Lochtefeld, Information Technology Specialist – Mercer County District Library
  • Holly Walter, Adult Services Librarian – Findlay- Hancock County Public Library
  • Katie Mihaly, Circulation and Outreach Specialist – Jerome Library- Bowling Green State University