Library Census Equity Fund

The American Library Association (ALA) provided 59 libraries with a Library Census Equity Grant, $2,000 to bolster their service to hard-to-count communities and help achieve a complete count in the 2020 Census.

Historically, certain groups of people have been undercounted disproportionately by the decennial census. Traditionally undercounted populations include young children, American Indians and Alaska Natives, people experiencing homelessness, and people of color, among others. In the 2020 Census, which will have a new online response option, people who lack internet access or online skills may also be at risk of being undercounted. (To learn more, see ALA’s Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census.) To address these issues, the Library Census Equity Grant supports activities such as conducting community outreach activities or expanding the library’s technology capacity for people completing the census questionnaire online.

Eligible activities include (but are not limited to):

  • Expanding the library’s technology capacity for use by people completing the census questionnaire online, e.g. buying an additional tablet computer or internet hotpsot
  • Community outreach activities using library facilities, staff, or resources, e.g. hosting a program or event at the library
  • Buying or printing materials related to the Census (e.g. books or media) for use in library programs, displays, outreach or events

Funds may NOT be used for lobbying activities (as described in 26 U.S.C. § 501), to intervene in any election, to support or oppose any political party or candidate for public office, or to carry on a voter registration drive.

Hard-to-count populations include:

  • People without home broadband access or people with low comfort or ability using the internet
  • Census tracts identified as hard-to-count in the Census 2020 Hard to Count map or with a high Low Response Score on the Response Outreach Area Mapper
  • Complex households including those with blended families, multi-generations, or non-relatives
  • Cultural and linguistic minorities
  • Displaced people affected by a disaster
  • LGBTQ people
  • Low income people
  • New Americans and immigrants
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • People of color, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders
  • People residing in places difficult for enumerators to access, such as buildings with strict doormen, gated communities, and basement apartments
  • People residing in rural or geographically isolated areas
  • People who do not live in traditional housing
  • People who do not speak English fluently (or have limited English proficiency)
  • People who have distrust in the government
  • People with mental or physical disabilities
  • People without a high school diploma
  • Renters
  • Young children (and their parents, guardians, and caregivers)
  • Young, mobile people (such as college students)


November 22, 2019: Deadline for applications

December 2019: ALA notified selected grantees

April 1, 2020: Last date for grantees to begin activities (activities may begin prior to this date)

April 30, 2020: Last date for grantees to complete activities

May 15, 2020: Deadline for grantees to submit a short report of activity to ALA (less than 100 words with photo)

Selection Criteria

Recipients were selected based on the expected impact of the proposed activities to contribute to a complete count in the 2020 Census. Priority was given to applicants that had not previously received funding from other sources to support the library’s 2020 Census preparations or activities. Consideration were given to promote a distribution of mini-grants among diverse states, library types, and activities.

Selection Committee

A selection committee established by ALA’s 2020 Census Library Outreach and Education Task Force selected the mini-grant recipients.

  • Tom Adamich, Monroe County (MI) Community College
  • Patricia Ball, Cobb County (GA) Public Library System
  • Heather Cousin, Thousand Oaks (CA) Library
  • Susan Hildreth, Aspen Fellow
  • Cecilia Tovar, Santa Monica (CA) Public Library

Other Funding Sources

For ideas about other potential sources of funding to support your library’s 2020 Census activities, see ALA’s tip sheet, “Preparing My Library for the 2020 Census.”


If you have questions about the Library Census Equity Fund, contact Gavin Baker at