Any librarian that has helped students or faculty access demographic data knows how essential the Census is for many research activities in higher education. But did you know that most federal programs that support higher education institutions, including those funding scholarships, college readiness, and research, rely on accurate Census data to allocate funding? In 2020 Census officials face an even bigger than normal challenge in getting an accurate count, given the distrust of government and concern over privacy in current times.
Academic library staff can help to boost 2020 Census participation among one of the country’s hard-to-count groups, college students. This highly-mobile part of the population is difficult to count because there is often confusion about where they should be counted and who is responsible for counting them.
ALA provides a helpful guide that outlines how college students are counted, whether they live on campus, live at home, or rent off-campus. Getting these facts out to students when census participation is being promoted (mid-March through April 2020) is a great way to help insure accurate information is widely available. More outreach materials that explain confidentiality and residency issues are also available.
Partnering with faculty, student groups, or community organizations to host informational events about the Census is also a great way to help promote participation. Along with Census promotional materials, information resources like the Counting for Dollars research provided George Washington Institute of Public Policy or the Hard to Count 2020 map from CUNY’s Center for Urban Research help provide data and context for why Census participation is so important.
Oregon-specific resources such as the Oregon 2020 Census Communications Toolkit and #WeCountOregon campaign offer promotional resources and messaging tailored specifically to Oregonians and those in hard-to-count communities throughout the state.
If you are looking for more promotion ideas or resources, see the State Library’s Census 2020 Resources for Oregon Libraries or Campus Compact’s 2020 Census hub. Aren’t finding what you’re looking for, or want to share a success story? Please let me know! Arlene Weible, firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-378-5020.