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-- AndreaSnyder - 09 Mar 2020

Census 2020

The next Decennial Federal Census will take place in 2020. Libraries can play an important role by creating awareness of the Census, acting as a trusted source of information about the Census and by providing internet access for completing the Census online.

The information below is intended to provide basic information about the census and how OWWL library staff can support community members in completing the census.

COVID-19 Updates

  • Census deadline has been extended until September 30, 2020
  • A reminder postcard will be sent in late July
  • Door-to-Door followup will begin in August in most areas
  • Adapting Outreach in Response to COVID-19

OWWL Libraries & the 2020 Census


PLS is working to ensure that each OWWL library has at least one computer that is as safe and secure as possible for community members to complete the 2020 Census.

For libraries that have Active Directory or Linux installed, patrons may use any computer to complete the census. Libraries may choose to designate a computer(s) as a "Census Computer."

For all other libraries, Macedon Library is generously loaning laptops from February through May 2020. (Thanks, Macedon!)
These laptops are intended to be designated for patrons to complete the census. Andrea Snyder will be in touch with libraries to coordinate the delivery and pickup of the laptops.

Promotional Materials

Each library will receive a packet that includes basic census information, computer signage, table tents and lawn signs that were created by PLS and the PLSDAC Census Taskforce.

Sample Census Computer Sign

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Census & why is it Important?
  • The U.S. Constitution requires a count every 10 years of every person living in the United States. Census results determine how the federal government allocates more than $800 billion each year for services that communities rely on, such as public schools, healthcare, food programs, roads and public transportation, and housing. Census data also determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as in state and local governments.
  • April 1 is “Census Day.” When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020. While April 1 is the reference date, people can submit their questionnaire before or after that date.
  • Historically, certain groups of people have been disproportionately undercounted in the census, including young children, people of color and indigenous people, and people experiencing homelessness. If the census misses people, undercounted communities won’t get fair funding for critical programs, and officials won’t have the reliable information they need to make decisions.
What is the timeline for the 2020 Census?
  • Beginning on March 12, 2020, the Census Bureau will mail every household in the United States an invitation to respond to the census. Several follow up mailings will be sent to households that have not completed the census in March & April 2020. The Census Bureau will use other methods to count people in group living situations, such as college dorms and military bases, and people experiencing homelessness. April 1 is known as “Census Day,” although households can respond before or after that date. Beginning in May 2020, Census Bureau staff will visit households that have not yet responded to collect their responses in person. Households can respond online, by phone, or by mail until July 31, 2020.
  • Sample Invitation Letter
How can people respond to the 2020 Census?
  1. Online

    The Census Bureau is promoting online response as the preferred method but no one is required to respond online. The questionnaire is estimated to take about 10 minutes to complete. All information entered online is encrypted as soon as the respondent hits “submit."

    The mailing sent to households will include a unique Census ID code that the person responding for the household can enter to identify their address. If the respondent doesn't have a Census ID code, they can enter their home address instead.
    The online form will be available in English and 12 non-English languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

  2. Phone

    Starting March 9, respondents can call these toll-free numbers for assistance or to respond to the 2020 Census by phone

    English: 844-330-2020 Spanish: 844-468-2020
    Chinese (Mandarin): 844-391-2020 Chinese (Cantonese): 844-398-2020
    Vietnamese: 844-461-2020 Korean: 844-392-2020
    Russian: 844-417-2020 Arabic: 844-416-2020
    Tagalog: 844-478-2020 Polish: 844-479-2020
    French: 844-494-2020 Haitian Creole: 844-477-2020
    Portuguese: 844-474-2020 Japanese: 844-460-2020
    English (Puerto Rico residents): 844-418-2020 Spanish (Puerto Rico residents): 844-426-2020
    Telephone Display Device (TDD): 844-467-2020
  3. Paper Questionaire

    Between April 8-16, the Census Bureau will mail a paper questionnaire to households that have not yet responded to the census.
    Paper forms will be available in English or Bilingual English-Spanish.

  4. In-person visit from Census Enumerator

    If a household hasn't responded to the census by May 13th, a Census Bureau staff person will follow up with an in-person visit. These visits will be conducted through July.

Can library staff help people complete the online form?

  • Library staff can direct respondents to the response option that best suits their needs: online, phone, mail, or a census taker visit to their home. Library staff can also point respondents to the online questionnaire guides in English and 59 other languages. In addition, library staff can explain the basic features of the online form, such as how to navigate the pages or change the language. Library staff should not type in responses to census questions for a patron. Only Census Bureau employees may collect responses directly from individuals, and only they are sworn for life to keep an individual’s responses confidential.

What questions are asked on the 2020 Census?

What questions won't be asked?
  • The census will not ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything related to political parties.

What happens if I leave some responses blank?
  • The Census Bureau strongly encourages respondents to answer every question for every person in the household but will allow submission of incomplete questionnaires. Bureau staff may follow up on incomplete submissions.

Confidentiality - Is our information safe?
  • Responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure and protected by federal law. Answers can only be used to produce anonymous statistics. they cannot be used against individuals by any government agency or court in any way.

Scams & Frauds

How do I identify an official census worker in person or over the phone?
  • Census workers must present an ID badge with their photo, the U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. To verify, people can call Census Questionnaire Assistance toll-free number.

If I received the American Community Survey (ACS), do I also have to complete the 2020 Census?
  • The ACS is different from the 2020 Census. It shows how we live - our education, housing, jobs and more. The ACS provides information about the social and economic needs of our community every year. It is conducted every month and sent to a sample of addresses.
    Every household is required to complete the Census which is conducted every ten years and provides an official count of the entire U.S. population.
  • American Community Survey information:

How long do I have to complete the census online?
  • The entire survey must be completed in one session. You cannot start it, save your work and come back later.
    There is a 15 minute timeout for security purposes - if the survey has been started and activity goes dormant, the respondent will be logged out and have to re-start the process again. Users are warned at 13 minutes that they will be logged out if no activity is taken.


Additional Resources

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