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With Library Resources, Census Coordinator Aims for Complete Count

Posted 8 months ago by Library News

As Deborah Barnett approached the podium at a recent rally, she wanted to energize the crowd. Her first words were loud and clear.

“The census is coming! The census is coming!”

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a population count that ultimately determines Congressional seats and federal funding programs. For each person they do not count, based on results of the 2010 census count, it is estimated that Lucas County could lose more than $1,800 per year, per person. The census really is coming, and the Toledo-Lucas County Complete Census Count committee is ready!

Innovating on a National Scale

Since last November, Barnett has served as the 2020 census coordinator for this Complete Count Committee. Her position is funded by the Lucas County Commissioners, City of Toledo and Greater Toledo Community Foundation. Through an agreement, Barnett works at Main Library, downtown headquarters of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL). Complete Count Committee meetings are held monthly at the United Way of Greater Toledo.

Being a civic-minded person, I want to continue making this a great place to live.
Deborah Barnett
Census Coordinator, Complete Count Committee

TLCPL is among a small group of systems nationally to house a census coordinator in its building, according to the American Library Association.

The Library partnership provides Barnett an office, supplies and easy access for meetings in the system’s 20 locations. She described these sites as powerful resource centers.

“As coordinator, I understand the importance of ensuring everyone is completely and accurately counted. Being a civic-minded person, I want to continue making this a great place to live,” Barnett said. “I am so pleased the Library is taking part in such a connecting way.”

Rhonda Sewell, Library manager of external/governmental affairs, said this speaks to the Library’s partnerships around the region. It is not just a place with census information, but a source of help for those in need.

“The Library is taking on all of these different roles that help people become successful in their lives,” Sewell said.

Coordinator’s Role

Barnett has lived in Toledo for more than 40 years. She worked for 33 years at Huntington Bank, retiring as vice president of community relations. Barnett is a former Toledo Public Schools board member and president, and now operates her own consulting business, N-SYNC, LLC. Her vast experiences and network connect people to the right resources.

Her months of preparation have already proved invaluable. Barnett has met with numerous community and faith-based leaders, governmental officials and educational organizations to garner their influence in getting the messaging out to the public. She is also working with eight Complete Count Committee subcommittees to help spread the word and dispel myths and concerns of completing the 2020 census.

The Cost of Missing Out

The U.S. Census Bureau begins mailing forms on March 12. The results of each census build the funding formulas for so much, including Medicaid, schools, daycares and hospitals. For the first time in census history, the 2020 forms can be completed online, by phone or mail.

A decade ago, Lucas County residents were undercounted by an estimated 20 percent.

Filling out the census is a simple task for each household. The collected data helps communities get the funding they need and helps businesses make data-driven decisions that grow the economy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Barnett said it is a tremendous feeling to assume this responsibility with the Library’s involvement. Managers are training for census implementation at branches. Staff are reminding customers about the upcoming 2020 census. The work ensures people across the county receive their fair share.

“I don’t know if we could do this without the Library,” Barnett said.