Why is taking the census important?
Taking the census is important because the data obtained is used to:
Can census responses be shared with law enforcement or other government agencies?
NO! Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information provided in census responses, including citizen status. Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau or any of its employees from sharing personally identifiable information with other government agencies. Census employees take a lifetime oath to protect census responses, with severe penalties for violations. The law prohibits personally identifiable information collected by the Census Bureau from being used against respondents by any government agency or court.
What should someone do if they receive an e-mail or text by someone claiming to be with the Census Bureau or if they have a question/ concern about the authenticity of someone purporting to be an official Census Bureau employee?
A: Call the New York Regional Office: (212) 584-3400 -or- 1-800-991-2520 -or- TDD (212) 478-4793.
How can someone identify an official Census Bureau employee in person or over the phone?
Census workers must present an identification badge (ID) that includes their photo, the U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Another way to verify is to contact Census Questionnaire Assistance OR enter the name into the Census Bureau Staff Search at: https://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/main/email.cgi OR contact the New York Regional Office at the numbers above.
How are people counted in the census?
The census questionnaire will ask questions about all the people who live and sleep in a household most of the time – including babies and anyone who has no other permanent place to stay and is staying in the household – as of April 1, 2020. Only one (1) census form will be completed for each HOUSEHOLD. Everyone living in the household will need to be listed on the ONE form.
How will the census be taken?
80% of households will be asked to complete the census online using a unique code; 20% of households will receive a paper questionnaire. All households will also receive information on how to take the census via telephone.
Is the Census Bureau’s online system secure?
YES! The Census Bureau has taken significant steps to protect online responses. All information entered online is encrypted as soon as the respondent hits “submit.”
Q: What about the public access computers at the Public Library, are they secure?
Your library should have public access computers that are maintained with the latest software and patches for virus protection. In the lead-up to census day, work with your IT department to ensure that the library has industry standard encryption for connection to websites such as https://census.gov/. When someone uses a public access computer, all traces of their use should be automatically removed when they log off of the computer.
Can someone respond to the online census using their personal smartphone or tablet?
YES! The online form will be optimized to allow people to respond on a smartphone or tablet.
Does the census have to be taken online?
NO! Respondents may take the census online, by using a paper questionnaire or by phone. The phone number will be listed in the mailings.
Will Census Questionnaire Assistance be available in languages other than English?
YES! Census Questionnaire Assistance will also be available in 12 additional languages: Arabic, Chinese [Simplified], French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Mandarin and Cantonese may also be available. People will also be able use their Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) when calling.
What if another language is needed?
A: The Census Bureau is providing language guides in 59 non-English languages. The language guides cannot be used to respond to the census, but can help respondents fill out the actual form in English. These languages include: Albanian, American Sign Language, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chinese, Creole, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Greek, Haitian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong,, Hungarian Igbo, Ilocano, Indonesia, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Marathi, Navajo, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Yiddish, Yoruba. They are published on the Census website here.
What about assistance for the visually impaired?
Language guides will be available in American Sign Language, Braille and large print.
What is new in the Household Relationship question in the 2020 Census?
For the first time, the census offers a way for the person filling out the form to indicate a same-sex relationship with another household member. This change is expected to improve national statistics on same-sex couples.
How long will it take to fill out the census?
Although the time it takes to complete the census may vary with the size of a household, the Census Bureau estimates it will take about 10 minutes [to complete the questionnaire].
What happens if a person misses a question?
The Census Bureau strongly encourages respondents to answer every question for every person in the household, but will allow submission of incomplete questionnaires. Census Bureau staff may follow up on incomplete submissions.
What happens if the census form is not completed online or via telephone?
Several reminder letters will be sent to the household. If a (self-response) form is not completed – online or via telephone, the final reminder will be sent with a paper questionnaire.
And if the paper questionnaire is not returned?
After May 2020 the household may receive a phone call or an in-person visit from a Census Bureau employee. This is being called the “FOLLOW-UP” period. Households can continue to self-respond online, via telephone or paper questionnaire during the “FOLLOW-UP period.”
DO’S and DON’TS for Library Staff when assisting with Census 2020
These policies have been adapted from Buffalo & Erie County Public Library's Complete Count Committee, and are here as general guidelines. If you are in doubt, please check with your library or library system to confirm that they match your local policy. If you are creating a policy, you are welcome to adapt these for your library.
Many libraries are hosting web pages to share census information with their patrons. We are listing a few here and adding more as we hear about them. Check these out for ideas for your own website!
This guide was made in conjunction with Buffalo & Eire County Public Library's Complete Count Committee and is based on their documentation.