Counted In: National Forum on Libraries, Census 2020, and New Americans

The University of Maryland iSchool is seeking $101,593 to host the Counted In: National Forum on Libraries, Census 2020, and New Americans, a one-day pre-conference event on promoting census participation among immigrants. This forum will take place in conjunction with the annual Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in LIS (CIDLIS). Funding from IMLS under the National Leadership Grants for Libraries, National Forum category will help promote access and increase the capacity to include librarians and immigrant organizations from across the country.

This national forum is unique in that it will result in mechanisms for fostering relationships between libraries and immigrant communities around the 2020 Census, specifically, and civic engagement, broadly. The majority of the forum will be dedicated to interaction between library professionals and immigrant community organizations. Through a design thinking workshop, a visual artist who will graphically synthesize content, activities such as a “conversation tour,” and presentations on the latest developments from census and ALA experts, the forum will center on collaboration and open dialogue. Subsequent to the forum, the co-PIs will work with a marketing firm to design free, customizable, and downloadable library outreach material which, together with other resources, will be disseminated through an online toolkit. The toolkit will be shared through social media, library-related listservs, and the ALA 2020 Census Outreach and Education Task Force’s website and programs. Also, from January – June 2020, the co-PIs will provide training on using the toolkit and connecting with local immigrant groups. Finally, the Counted In forum activities will culminate in a white paper to provide guidance on future census efforts. Accurate census tabulations are necessary for resource distribution and representation throughout the next decade. The 2020 or 24th iteration of the U.S. census will vastly transform participation dynamics in that online responses are preferred. Some argue that it may be the most difficult in our country’s history. Public libraries, which once played a peripheral role, must now provide frontline technological 1 and informational services. For various social and political reasons – for instance, ongoing debates surrounding immigration policy along with the introduction of electronic census participation – immigrants are at risk of being undercounted.

ALA’s 2020 Census Outreach and Education Task Force is already hard at work to ensure that libraries help in achieving a complete national count. This forum will support their efforts by paying exclusive attention to the needs of New Americans – whether, they are refugees, asylees, lawful permanent residents and naturalized citizens, those with temporary protected status, or undocumented individuals. The Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC)at the University of Maryland’s iSchool is well-suited to host this national forum because of its proximity to DC-based immigrant organizations and the U.S. Census Bureau. Serving as co-PIs are Dr. Ana Ndumu and Dr. Paul Jaeger.

July 2019 - July 2020

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