DO and DON’T

Census 2020 DO and DON’T ideas for Library Staff

(Ideas adapted from Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s Complete Count Committee.)


  • Familiarize yourself with the timeline of the 2020 Census
  • Familiarize yourself with and have an understanding of your library system’s Complete Count Committee work.
  • Celebrate Census Day – April 1, 2020
  • Create Census “Sessions” with dates/times when staff is available to assist groups in completing the Census questionnaire
  • Take information regarding the Library’s Census kiosks and information with you to outreach programs/visits, etc.
  • Work with partner agencies – particularly those who assist immigrant/ refugee and other non-English speaking communities to help facilitate completion of the Census
  • Encourage partner organizations to bring clientele to the library to use library computers to complete the Census
  • Explain WHY taking the Census is REQUIRED:
  • Explain WHY taking the Census is IMPORTANT and USES of Census data:
  • Explain data is CONFIDENTIAL
  • Explain how the 2020 Census can be completed – online, via telephone, via enumerator
  • It is OK to enter URL for patrons, or set the browser home page to the census page.
  • Provide the telephone number of the 2020 Census telephone data portal
  • Provide the telephone number to the assistance line for non-English speakers
  • ALWAYS USE COMMON SENSE – Ask YOUR library’s 2020 CENSUS LEADER if you have any questions.


  • Don’t try to coerce reluctant patrons to take the census or discourage the taking of the Census – do provide facts about the census to help patrons make their own choices.
  • Don’t express your personal opinion about the Census or any of the Census questions during work hours or when representing your library.
  • Don’t complete anyone’s Census but your own
  • Don’t interpret Census questions
  • Don’t translate Census information or questions UNLESS you are fluent in the language
  • Don’t say “I can’t help you” – rather ask questions for clarification (think reference interview), seek answers, provide guidance to and other Census helplines.