2019 Library Advocacy Agenda | Libraries Count: Census 2020

$40M for Library-Based Complete Count Initiatives

Background
  1. The 2020 census will be conducted primarily online for the first time, threatening a catastrophic undercount
  2. In NYS, studies show that populations historically subject to undercounting - low-income households, New Americans, and communities of color -- disproportionately lack broadband internet access at home
  3. A 2020 undercount threatens our state budget & federal representation; in FY2019, NYS received $60B in federal funding through population-based formulas & the 2010 undercount cost NY two Congressional seats
Libraries as Crucial Partners
  1. Statewide, at least 18% of households lack internet access, or rely on dial-up access; according to multiyear Siena Research Institute data, 25% of NYS households earning less than $50k annually indicate their local public library is their primary point of internet access.
  2. 100% of NYC’s “Hard-to-Count” (HTC) communities are within one mile of a library, with nearly 99% of NYS HTC tracts within 5 miles.
Community Based Partnerships
  1. Libraries and library advocates across New York, in partnership with the NYS Complete Count Commission and New York Counts 2020, will serve a critical role as primary points of service for New Yorkers who need help completing the online census.
  2. For public libraries to effectively serve an influx of New Yorkers as the local, trusted places for reliable census information and/or complete their questionnaire, immediate infrastructure investment is needed.
Recommendations
  1. Funding for cybersecurity measures: libraries store legally-protected personal information for nearly 10 million New Yorkers statewide; the recent Australian census was hacked, causing prolonged services outages, tens of millions in damages, and compromised sensitive personal information
  2. Support for staff resources: approximately 1.4M New Yorkers rely on libraries for internet, and hundreds of thousands more will seek library staff support; estimates range from 150,000-175,000 total library staff hours.
  3. IT infrastructure investments: many libraries will find it necessary to upgrade hardware and software resources, increase available bandwidth, and potentially hire (even temporarily) additional IT staff.