Across the US, public libraries are one of the most trusted community services and centers. Leading up to and during the 2020 Census, local libraries will step up in their communities and provide reliable information and internet access to individuals and families without access. -Patricia Ball, Stratton Library Manager and member of the American Library Association’s 2020 Census Committee

A complete count in the 2020 Census is essential to make sure that libraries and their communities don’t miss out on billions of dollars in needed funding, as well as political representation. However, nearly 40% of households have not responded yet, and the count is even lower among populations that have been undercounted historically. Learn how the Census Bureau, libraries, and community partners have adapted their operations and outreach in response to COVID-19, and how libraries can support a complete count before the Census ends in October.

Click here to view 2020 Census: Last Chance for a Complete Count; originally presented July 8, 2020.

This on-demand webinar is co-sponsored by the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office and the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services.



Why should you care? Who does the Census benefit?

OUR SCHOOLS  The Census impacts school and library funding and the drawing of school districts. Without an accurate count, our students get fewer resources.

OUR ROADS  The Census impacts the funding of our roads and major infrastructure projects that impact traffic and our daily commutes.

OUR HOSPITALS  The Census impacts funding for hospitals and county-level health services. When the count is off, there’s less to help our neighbors.

OUR COMMUNITY  The Census impacts funding for programs such as The National School Lunch Program, Health Center Programs for migrants or the homeless, Foster Care programs, and more as well as providing for food and housing assistance and infrastructure projects.


At a Glance

The U.S. Census Bureau is the federal government’s largest statistical agency. We are dedicated to providing current facts and figures about America’s people, places, and economy. Federal law protects the confidentiality of all individual responses the Census Bureau collects. The U.S. Constitution requires that each decade we take a count— or a census—of America’s population.

The census provides vital information for you and your community.

  • It determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and is used to redraw district boundaries. Redistricting counts are sent to the states by March 31, 2021.
  • Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of resident needs including new roads, schools, and emergency services.
  • Businesses use census data to determine where to open places to shop.

Each year, the federal government distributes more than $675 billion to states and communities based on Census Bureau data.

In 2020, we will implement new technology to make it easier than ever to respond to the census. For the first time, you will be able to respond online, by phone, as well as by mail. We will use data that the public has already provided to reduce followup visits. And, we are building an accurate address list and automating our field operations—all while keeping your information confidential and safe.


Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics—they cannot be used against you in any way. By law, all responses to U.S. Census Bureau household and business surveys are kept completely confidential.

Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies.

The law states that the information collected may only be used for statistical purposes and no other purpose.

To support historical research, Title 44 of the U.S. Code allows the National Archives and Records Administration to release census records only after 72 years.

All Census Bureau staff take a lifetime oath to protect your personal information, and any violation comes with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison.

How It Works

Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone. Nearly every household will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census from either a postal worker or a census worker.

Download an information flyer: in English | in Spanish
Download a Sample Census Questionnaire: Sample Questionnaire