A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

News & Opinion

The Census Needs to Hire Half a Million People – Here’s How Libraries Can Help

by on August 20, 2019

Counting every person once and only once and in the right place every ten years is an enormous undertaking that has vast implications for political representation and more than $800 billion in federal funding for states and localities. Achieving this complete count in the 2020 Census requires the hiring of more than 500,000 temporary workers. Public libraries can play a central role in helping community members learn about and apply for these jobs, and a new tip sheet from the ALA can help. 

How Can My Library Increase Awareness of 2020 Census Hiring highlights key information for libraries about the U.S. Census Bureau’s hiring effort. Public libraries can contribute to achieving an inclusive, accurate, and complete count by helping the Census Bureau reach out to identify and hire qualified, culturally competent workers in every community.

2020 Census jobs include census takers, recruiting assistants, office staff, and supervisory staff. The job opportunities are located in every community across the country and offer good pay, flexible hours (for many positions), and paid training. Public libraries can promote awareness of census hiring through library social media and newsletters, host job fairs with the Census Bureau and community partners, and publicize their resources for jobseekers, including Internet access, computers, and job search services. Potential applicants will need to search for jobs and apply online. Some of the Census Bureau training for these positions will be conducted online as well. 

To help fill these positions, the Census Bureau is working with community partners – such as libraries – to recruit employees who are familiar with neighborhoods where they will be assigned and who reflect the diversity of those communities. This effort is important, because certain groups of people have been disproportionately undercounted in past census counts, including young children, racial and ethnic minorities, new Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and individuals experiencing homelessness. If the census misses people, undercounted communities are disadvantaged economically and politically. Undercounted groups won’t get the appropriate level of funding for programs needed in their neighborhoods, and local leaders and officials won’t have the reliable information they need to make decisions. Public libraries can contribute to achieving an inclusive, accurate, and complete count by helping the Census Bureau reach out to identify and hire qualified, culturally competent workers in every community.

The 2020 Census will have far-reaching impacts on political representation and government funding. Ensuring a complete and accurate count is crucial. Public libraries are well positioned to increase awareness of the 2020 Census and promote community engagement around a complete count in multiple ways. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ), for example, promoted a 2020 Census job fair at the Long Branch Public Library (NJ) in a recent tweet, “Want to work for the Census? I am hosting a Census 2020 job fair at the Long Branch Public Library on May 16th from 3pm-7pm. I hope to see you there!”

To learn more about how to help people in your community get hired for the 2020 Census, read ALA’s new tip sheet. For more information about libraries and the 2020 Census, visit ala.org/census


Tags: ,



Leave a comment

1 comment

  1. Ashley Johnson says:

    Aug 30, 2019

    Our ACBO (Administrative community-based organizations) has taken on the charge of Census outreach and library involvement. Visit https://www.railslibraries.info/services/census to see all the ways they are getting libraries up to speed.

Name required

Website