Libraries play a key role in the census, and organizations took notice with funding.
Stillwater Public Library received three grants to support their efforts during the 2020 census. The grants came from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Institute for Library and Museum Services, and American Library Association’s Census Equity Fund. Two of these are federal programs.
The library is using these grants to get the word out about the upcoming census, provide opportunities around Stillwater for those who do not have access to internet or technology and inform the public with correct information for whatever question a person may have.
“We’ve been branded as Stillwater’s Census Central,” Stacy Delano, Stillwater Public Library director, said.
The library’s preparation for the census began in January. The library’s staff underwent training so they could have a clear understanding of how the census works and operates, studying standard census questions and finding out the answers to frequently asked questions so they could be prepared for any concern that may come their way. The library has also prepped devices which they will use in their planned outreach opportunities.
Not only are the staff of the public library working hard to be book smart about the census, they’re also putting in the leg work, too. The library has set up a booth with census information at several community events and they set up partnerships with organizations working closely to reach harder to reach populations.
“We’re trying to talk to people ahead of time to let them know to call the library, so we can do our best to help you,” Delano said.
There are twelve outreach opportunities planned from March 23 to April 18. Delano said the locations were handpicked in anticipation that the library’s staff would meet people where they already frequent. During these outreach opportunities, there will be devices present for anyone to fill out the census. These opportunities are designed to limit issues like lack of transportation, access to a device or internet access.
The Stillwater Public Library is working to ensure citizens of Stillwater are operating on correct facts and dispel myths and falsities from disinformation campaigns. The most popular attacks from these disinformation campaigns are the threats of a citizenship question on the census, that the census is a scam and other random attacks coming from internet sites like 4chan, Delano said.
“What the library wants to do is give you the accurate, correct information about the census so that we can get counted and bring our tax dollars back here to Stillwater to serve our citizens,” Delano said.
Three-hundred sixteen federal programs rely on census data for determining funding. The effects of these programs don’t stop at the citizens of Stillwater; they include those attending OSU, Delano said.
“We’re open to any questions about the census,” Delano said. “The library is the place to call.”