As expected, City Hall is expecting Queens Public Library to play a key role in enabling a proper count during Census 2020.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $1.4 million investment into the city’s first-of-its-kind census outreach and engagement campaign in partnership with the city’s three library systems, QPL, the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Library.
“New York City has been on the front lines of the resistance against the Trump administration and ensuring every New Yorker gets counted is central to our fight,” de Blasio said. “We cannot let the federal government silence our diversity of voices. Our partnership with the public library system will help all New Yorkers stand up and be counted.”
The investment will fund internet access, training and translation, operational support, marketing and personnel to ensure that all New Yorkers participate. The census will help determine the allocation of more than $650 billion in federal funding, in addition to the appointment of seats in the House of Representatives which is hugely significant in that current population change estimates indicate that New York state could lose congressional seats following the 2020 Census.
“The City of New York has long recognized that public libraries are its most trusted, open and democratic institutions,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “A complete count is a matter of equity and inclusion, yet many people feel uncertain and marginalized, especially in our immigrant communities. Serving the most diverse place in the country with branches in many of the hardest-to-count census tracts, Queens Public Library is ready to make sure everyone is represented no matter who they are or where they come from, and we look forward to working with the city and our community partners to make this happen.”
Funding libraries to conduct census outreach and provide internet access will be a critical component of NYC Census 2020’s campaign to combat fear and disinformation resulting from the specter of the now-defeated citizenship question, as well as bridge the digital divide that has left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers without regular reliable access to the internet.
The partnership between NYC Census 2020 and the three library systems, will enable libraries to expand and better leverage their existing capabilities to assist New Yorkers to complete the census form, which will be online for the first time.
“Our job is to get every New Yorker counted in next year’s census, and we’ll only be able to our job by partnering with the libraries, which serve as the most trusted voiced in communities across the city,” NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin said. “With this investment, together, we will combat the fear and disinformation about the census created by the Trump administration, and also bridge the digital divide that could create barriers for New Yorkers to stand up and be counted in next year’s census, no matter where they live or what language they speak.”
The funding for the library systems is one of the cornerstones of the city’s historic $40 million investment in census outreach, organizing and public awareness, which includes large community-based grants program, a field operation, as well as innovative, robust, and multilingual media and marketing efforts.
“Libraries are safe spaces and community hubs for much of immigrant New York, and library involvement in census outreach ensures that trusted community partners will be on the front lines of the get-out-the-count efforts across the city, especially in bridging the digital divide for the first-ever digital census,” New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Steven Choi said. “A fair and accurate count of residents is vital to assuring our fair share of federal funds for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”