Census Data Literacy

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Why Census Data?

Good data aids good decision making. The U.S. Census Bureau collects a wealth of data, so much that the quantity of data and tools can be overwhelming. Public libraries can support their patrons in navigating and understanding Census data for decision making, planning, and community and economic development. Libraries can also leverage the data to better understand the diverse communities they serve and to develop programs and services that best meet the needs and interests of their users.  

About this Project

The Census Data Literacy project is an initiative of PLA in partnership with ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office. It aims to build data literacy skills among library staff to enhance their services, programs, and initiatives with the overall goal of promoting awareness and use of Census data in their communities. In 2021, this initiative included six free webinars and complementary online resources.


These free on-demand trainings will empower library staff to provide inclusive patron training on using Census data in key areas:


Census Data Literacy: Resource Guide (PDF)
This resource outlines the types of data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, why the data matters for libraries and communities, tools to use to find data, and how to learn more.

Using the Census for Family and Local History (PDF)
This resource outlines the history of the decennial U.S. census and provides an annotated guide to sources related to census data and records that public libraries may find useful for programs and reference services.