Census Highlight: Rio Grande City Public Library and Norma Gomez Fultz

Amidst a global pandemic, Norma Gomez Fultz at the Rio Grande City Public Library (RGCPL) has continued to push for a complete count in the 2020 census. With the census only 79 days away, we want to acknowledge how RGCPL has embraced the challenges that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and share our interview with Gomez Fultz. In this interview, Norma shares with us some of the work that RGCPL is doing around the 2020 census.

Tell us about yourself and how your journey at the Rio Grande Public Library.
My name is Norma Gomez Fultz, and I was born and raised in Rio Grande City. I left for a brief period, at the time there was not a public library is our county. In 1990, Starr County Public Library was established, and I became the first Assistant Library Director. In 2005, the City of Rio Grande City took over the county’s public library, which is when I became the Director of the Rio Grande City Public Library. We have grown from having to stamp due date slips to being a fully automated library.

I Count, Rio Grande City Billboard.
Rio Grande City Public Library was able to secure a local billboard at the center of town to promote the 2020 Census.

Why completing the 2020 census is essential to Rio Grande City and Starr County?
Rio Grande City is in Starr County. This area has a large immigrant population, both documented and undocumented, from Mexico as well as Central America and South America. Historically, our region has been undercounted, so informing and encouraging everyone in our area, they will understand why the census matters. It will help to determine the federal resources we are eligible to receive for Rio Grande City schools, roads, housing, hospitals, public safety, and other vital programs. Additionally, participation in the 2020 Census will determine how many members of Congress we can elect to fight for our interests and help to guide our state to draw voting districts.

How has COVID-19 impacted your library programming and outreach, especially around the census?
When we took the lead in the Census 2020 efforts, we had a great marketing plan and timeline. We were able to hire three people to form our Census team. Included in our programing were neighborhood block parties and advertisements on local billboards and local radio live remotes. Due to COVID-19, our efforts have shifted. We are now going to food distribution sites to pass out information. We also have partnered with Rio Grande City police, fire, public works, and other departments that will participate in some of our census programmings.

Partnerships are essential to the success of any library programming and outreach services, can you tell us about any partnerships that your library has developed to get the word out about the 2020 census? Were these partnerships your library had in place or were they recently developed?
We are on the Rio Grande City Complete Count Committee, which is comprised of a broad spectrum of government and community leaders from advocacy, education, business, healthcare, faith-based, and elected officials. We also on the Starr County Complete Count Committee, comprised of local mayors, city and county officials, education, healthcare, and others. We have formed some new partnerships and strengthened others. For example, the County of Starr did not receive a Census 2020 grant, so we have shared resources with them to distribute throughout the county.

Despite the challenges the Rio Grande City Public Library has currently been facing, can you share some things that your library has done to promote the 2020 census?
We have promoted the census on local radio and television stations, newspapers, and billboards. We have purchased marketing incentives such as pens, pencils, hand-held fans, bracelets, and koozies. We also have passed out fliers in English and Spanish and created a Spanish Informational Census Video (video will open in a new tab).

Looking forward, are there any upcoming events, programs, or services that you are excited to share with us?
We are organizing Census Reminder Parades throughout varies Rio Grande City neighborhoods. Joining us on these parades will be the Rio Grande City police, fire, public works, water, library, EDC, and other departments. We will also have a RGCCISD school bus, a Starr County Hospital vehicle, a Metro bus, the Sheriff’s Department, and more. We have added a dedicated Census Hotline number for anyone to call with questions or concerns and we will be purchasing hot spots, so our Census team is not limited to the library or city hall.

RGC Census Parade Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!

RGC CENSUS 2020 NEIGHBORHOOD PARADE: LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!Let’s get everyone counted! Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. We want to show you what this looks like for Rio Grande City! This parade features a lineup of vehicles from different local agencies and city departments that would be supported through census funding which directly goes back into expanding services for our community.The parade starts at 2:20PM EVERY FRIDAY!TOMORROW’S PARADE will start at Alberto & Celia Barrera Elementary (1400 N. Lopez St.)We understand it’s been a difficult few months for everyone, especially the kids, having to stay home this summer due to the coronavirus so we wanted to make some noise and have some fun! We hope to see you there! It's also a great time to teach our kids how the Census helps our local community!Rio Grande City CENSUS Helpline: 956-317-1585Fill out the CENSUS online: https://2020census.gov/RGC Economic Development Corporation Rio Grande City Public Library

Posted by City of Rio Grande City, Texas on Thursday, July 30, 2020
Rio Grande City’s 2020 Census Neighborhood Parade occurs every Friday at 2:20 PM. The parade includes a lineup of vehicles from different local agencies and city departments that would be supported through census funding which directly goes back into expanding services for our community.

Thank you, Norma, for taking the time to participate in this interview and for the incredible work that the Rio Grande City Public Library is doing.

The last day to complete the census is on October 31, 2020, so there is still time to ensure a complete and accurate count. You can stay up to date with a map of self-response rates across the U.S. and Texas by using the links below:

For more information and resources, visit our TSLAC Census 2020 webpage at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/census2020 or 2020census.gov. If you have any questions related to the 2020 Census, contact Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant, at ltadena@tsl.texas.gov.

It’s Census Day!

The 2020 Census is underway, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted the following operational dates. Here are a few quick facts about the changes:

  • The census self-response deadline has been extended until August 14, 2020.
  • Field operations have been delayed an additional two weeks until April 15.
  • The Census Bureau is still on track to deliver the Census on time to the President on December 31.

For the full list of operational changes to the 2020 Census, please view the U.S. Census Bureau: 2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19 fact sheet.

So how is Texas doing?

As of today, only 29.7% of households in Texas have responded to the 2020 Census by phone, mail, or online. The census data is critical to our basis of democracy and is used to make informed decisions that affect our everyday lives. Census data is used to ensure that all our Texas communities are treated fairly and that funds are appropriately allocated according to population needs. In times like these, census data is even more essential because our public health experts, government officials, and first responders rely on population data to make critical decisions.

Find out how your communities are responding to the 2020 Census

You can stay up to date with a map of self-response rates across the U.S. and Texas by using the links below:

  • U.S. Census Bureau Self-Response by State. This map allows users to view the self-response rate from households that responded to the 2020 Census online, by mail, or by phone, and compare the state’s average to the national self-response average.
  • City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Urban Research. Use this map to follow that state’s census progress and compare the progress with the census from 2000 and 2010. The map provides the feature to search the self-response rates by address, ZIP Code, landmark, county, state, or legislative district.

Make it Count!

There is still time to complete the 2020 Census!

If you have any questions related to the 2020 Census, contact Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant.

Check your mail, Texas! The 2020 Census is waiting for you.

Your 2020 Census invitation is in the mail, Texas! This week, official invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will be sent out to households. Here are a few things to help you prepare for the 2020 Census:

TSLAC has a Census 2020 webpage. Visit the TSLAC Census 2020 webpage to find up to date information, resources, and valuable tools about the 2020 Census.

What is the Census? The Census is a snapshot of who is residing in the nation. It is a short questionnaire (view sample 2020 Census questionnaire) that asks basic information about your household and the people who live in it. The Census is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every ten years. 

Who is counted? Everyone! The 2020 Census will count everyone living in the United States and five U.S. Territories, regardless of citizenship. 

How do I respond to the Census? There are three ways to participate in the 2020 Census. 

  • Respond Online. For the first time, you will be able to complete your Census online. Each household will receive a letter (view sample 2020 Census letter) with a unique Census ID and web address that they will use to respond to the questionnaire. You can complete the online questionnaire in the following languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.
  • Respond by Phone. You have the option of completing the questionnaire by phone. Phone support is offered in English and 12 non-English languages (view 2020 Census Non-English Language Support).  To begin, call 844-330-2020.
  • Respond by Mail. You can respond to the Census using a paper questionnaire sent to your home. You will be asked to fill out the questionnaire using blue or black ink and are encouraged not to use a pencil. Mail it back in the postage-paid return envelope. If you have trouble answering a question, call 1-888-262-5935 or email nscg@census.gov.

When do I respond to the Census? In Texas, the 2020 Census kicks off March 12, 2020. Here are some important dates regarding the 2020 Census: 

  • March 12-April 30: Self-Response Operation. The Census Bureau will kick off their Self-Response Operation beginning with a printed invitation mailed to every household encouraging individuals to complete the 2020 Census online or by phone. Every week after that print reminders will be sent to household that have not responded. The final reminder mailer going out on the fifth week, April 20-27.
  • May 13- July 31: Non-Response Follow-Up. Census enumerators will begin following up with households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. If no one answers when the enumerator visits, they will leave a “Notice of Visit” that includes an online response code to encourage households to self-respond. Enumerators will attempt a total of six visits during the Non-Response Follow-Up Operation.
  • July 31: Last day to respond to 2020 Census. This is the last day for households to self-respond. Individuals can respond on July 31, 2020 online, by phone or by mail.

Why is it important? Census Data is important to our democracy! This data will determine the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and how district lines are drawn at all levels of government. The data will also guide the allocation of more than $800 billion dollars in federal funding going to programs that are essential to building prosperous communities. Including these top Federal Programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP)
  • Medicare
  • Highway Planning and Construction
  • Section 8 Housing
  • Title 1 Grants to Local Education Agencies
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Special Education Grants
  • State Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP)
  • Head Start / Early Head Start

When our communities are inaccurately counted, our communities are underfunded and underserved. We only get one chance every ten years to achieve a full count, so let’s work together to ensure an accurate count of Texas!

For more information about the 2020 Census, visit www.2020census.gov or the TSLAC Census 2020 webpage. For questions about information on this post, email Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant.

#CountOnLibraries US Census 2020, a partnership with the American Library Association.
Share your library’s Census story with us! Follow @TSLAC on social media and share your story by using the hashtag #CountOnLibraries and #2020Census.

Census 2020 and Your Library

Census Day is April 1, 2020. What’s new this year?

For the first time, the United States Census will be conducted primarily online. The Census is conducted only once every ten years. It counts every person who is residing in the U.S., regardless of immigration status or citizenship.

How is Census data used?

Census data informs how billions of federal dollars are spent, affecting programs from Medicaid to road construction to County Extension. It’s also an essential planning tool for businesses and local governments and is very useful to anyone researching their family history. Census data will also determine how many United States congressional delegates will represent Texas and will impact redistricting.

Why should the library get involved?

Libraries are trusted information brokers and can play an essential role in ensuring a fair and accurate count in their communities for the upcoming 2020 Census. In addition to providing internet and computer access to individuals unable to complete the census form at their residence, libraries can serve as a source of information and assist with basic questions about completing the Census 2020.

Text: Because Good Decisions Depend on Good Data, #Librariestransform
Text: Because good decisions depend on good data, #Librariestransform.

How can my library support the Census?

Identify hard-to-count populations in your service area using the Census ROAM mapping tool. Examples of these populations include:

  • Children under 5
  • Households without Internet access
  • Renters
  • Households in poverty

Develop partnerships with other groups in your community that are already working on the Census. Groups that may already be working on this include:

Create programs about the Census or incorporate information about the Census into ongoing programs.

Host children’s programs.

Share information about the purpose of the Census with staff, board members, volunteers, and community partners.

Prepare library staff for the Census. Impacts may include:

  • Increased computer use
  • Increased Wi-Fi use
  • Questions from patrons

More information

Libraries & Census 2020

Local governments & Census 2020

Image of a map of the United States comprised of images of people. Text: #Countonlibraries U.S. Census 2020
Image of a map of the United States comprised of images of people. Text: #Countonlibraries U.S. Census 2020.

Financial Success for Libraries Workshop Resources

New Braunfels Public Library hosted a workshop for library directors and board members of non-profit libraries and library districts on November 6. Representatives from twelve area libraries attended the training.

There were presentations from Karin Gerstenhaber, Tocker Foundation; Laurie Mahaffey, CTLS, Inc.; Katherine Adelberg, Valicia Greenwood and Stacey Malek from Texas State Library; as well as a Q&A with a panel made up of library directors Maggie Goodman, Johnson City Library; Dianna Landes, Lakehills Area Library; and Jeanie Lively, Salado Public Library District; and Lakehills Area Library board member Barbara Hover.

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Many participants were surprised at the quantity of helpful resources were available for funding sources, 2020 Census participation, and how much assistance was available to them through the Texas State Library. Although the workshop targeted libraries that were established outside of a city or a county, most of the information is useful to directors in public libraries of all types.

Here are links to the presentations and resources:

Contact LDN staff at ld@tsl.texas.gov for more information.