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You matter to the 2020 Census

By Paulette Stiles

Rowan Public Library

With all the sound and fury coming out of Washington, it is easy to forget that individuals matter, and they especially matter to the U.S. Census. 

The U.S. Constitution requires that every individual in this land be counted whether they are billionaires or homeless, Christian or Muslim, black, white or any part of the rainbow. There are only nine questions on this census and it is not a test; these are all questions you know the private answer to.

Privacy is also very important to the census, and those who work for the census must commit themselves to its confidentiality. The answers are kept confidential for 72 years, too. If you are asking “Why should I participate?” consider these reasons:

Legacy: The legacies of American families are encapsulated in the census. Consider that in 2019, browsing on the internet, I was able to find my great-grandmother’s family in the 1900 census. I learned that at the tender age of 19 she was already a school teacher in a little town on the plains at the turn of the century. Here was clear evidence that many of the stories about my family and great-grandmother were true.

A fun fact to keep in mind is that the 1950 Census will be released in 2022, allowing the 1950s information about your family and community to become available for viewing and research. The American experience is documented through the ages, making the past available in the present, and the present available to future generations.

Public services: The census ensures public services are provided for and how much money is allocated to your community. Census information is used to allocate monies for public services funding for schools, hospitals, fire departments and yes, even libraries (such as RPL). 

It is used by administrative agencies to offer funding, to approve grants, to justify expenses and to offer goods and services such as Library Services for the Blind and Disabled which includes services for elderly and veterans.

City planning: The census is used to determine where new roads and highways are needed, new stores such as Walmart or Target might be built, where new churches might find parishioners, and planning for parks and facilities. It helps identify trends for future growth or to accommodate shrinking populations. For instance, schools may no longer be needed where the school-age populations of children are shrinking, but new jobs may be. Census data is used for creating maps and managing emergency and natural resources, as well.

Representation: The census numbers determine how many representatives your state sends to Congress. The census allows for a greater say in what happens for the state and what happens in the nation, when the population of a state such as North Carolina shows the great growth it has experienced over the last 10 years.  

Business: Businesses use census data to plan for expansions, to map routes, to find customers, to identify needed services and to learn about markets. Businesses can also identify suppliers, look into the competition, market conditions, and find supporting businesses that can help them run efficiently.  

If you are interested in seeing an early census for Rowan County, RPL has copies to look at from as early as the first one in 1790. Databases such as Ancestry and African American Heritage, available at the library, also offer searchable census tools for researching families and communities. All this is born from individuals participating in the census.  

In March, watch for a postcard to arrive in the mail with the code for you to use in responding to the census on computer, phone or other device (this code is key to keeping your information private). If you need help, a librarian can help get you to the right place. Making a positive difference in the community could be as simple as answering nine questions.

Friends of RPL Free Concert Series: Flat Tire Trio, headquarters, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. This band uses acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric and stand up bass to cover several genres, including bluegrass, blues, rock, and reggae. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.  This free concert is open to the public, and all ages are welcome. For more information, call 704-216-8243.

Scavenger Hunt — Love Birds: Headquarters and South, through Feb. 29. Can you find these love birds hidden throughout the children’s room? Complete the challenge and get a prize! For more information, call 704-216-8234 (HQ) or 704-216-7728 (South).

Scavenger Hunt — Shelf Esteem: East Branch, through Feb. 29. Explore our shelves! You may see books you have never noticed before in this scavenger hunt. This hunt will run through February 29. Complete the clue sheet and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. Call 704-216-7842 for more information.

Job Readiness on the Go: South, today, 2-4 p.m. A Career Connections Specialist from Goodwill will be onsite to provide Job Readiness on the Go, which consists of successfully completing employment applications online and on paper, creating a resume, learning interviewing skills, and completing assessments to help select a career based on your personality and skills. Call 704-216-8259 for more information.

Bright Star Touring Theatre: “Let It Shine: The American Civil Rights Movement 1955-1968” headquarters, today, 6:30 p.m. Join RPL for this powerful and accessible family production that celebrates the American Civil Rights movement.  The show features inspiring performances and the songs of the Civil Rights era.

Triple Threat Dance Company will open each performance with a tribute dance.

This hour-long, family-friendly program is open to the public and best suited for ages 8 to adult. Doors open at 6 p.m. For more details call 704-216-8245.

PJ Storytime: Headquarters, Feb. 24, 6:30 p.m. Children ages 12 and under are invited to wear their pajamas, bring their favorite stuffed animal and listen to bedtime stories with Ms. Char. A variety of bedtime stories will be read. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Questions? Call 704-216-8234.

Sensory Storytime: Feb. 23, 10:30 a.m., headquarters. Attendees will experience storytime through tactile stimulation as they touch, see, smell and hear different interactive elements. Low lighting and low music will also be used. This 30-minute storytime involves books, songs and movement and is designed for those with autism and/or sensory challenges. All ages and those of all abilities are welcome. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For questions or to make accessibility arrangements, call 704-216-8234.

Once Upon a Time: From Cinderella to Cinderlad: East, Feb 25, 6-7 p.m. Fairy tales are different depending on where you live. Explore different cultures with a look into the Cinderella story as it is told in five different countries. During this event we will have stories, a game and craft. Call 704-216-7842 for more information.

Crafty Kids: Headquarters, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. Children ages 12 and under are invited to explore their crafty side using a variety of materials and techniques to create art in the HQ Children’s Room. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For more information, contact Aida at 704-216-8234.

Teen Financial Literacy Night: All 4-5 p.m., Feb. 24 at South, Feb. 25 at headquarters and Feb. 27 at East. Learn about financial literacy and college financial planning from representatives from the Local Government Federal Credit Union. This program is designed for teens in sixth through 12th grade. Questions? Call 704-216-8229.

Genealogy Workshop: African-American Heritage, headquarters, Feb. 22, 10 a.m. Co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the Edith M. Clark History Room of RPL, this program is free and open to the public. Registration encouraged. To register, call Gretchen at 704-216-8232.

Family Night at Rowan Public Library: Headquarters, Feb. 25, 6:30-8 p.m. Want to learn some new parenting tips but can’t find childcare for the night? At this special program, guest speaker Margaret Stridick of the Terrie Hess House and with Prevent Child Abuse Rowan will present a workshop to parents and guardians on strategies to use with disobedient children, while across the hall, kids will be entertained with a special storytime and activities led by RPL children’s staff. This event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served. Please register ahead by calling 704-216-8258.

Family Escape Room: Escape the Candy Factory, East, Feb. 29, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Escape a candy factory by solving clues, riddles and puzzles. This program is designed for families. The escape room will run every 30 minutes, beginning at 11 a.m., and each time slot can include up to 6 people. Registration is preferred. For more information and to reserve your time, call 704-216-7842.

Displays: Headquarters, Diversity in Aviation presented by Dolly Griffin, display presented by Meals on Wheels and World War I: Lessons and Legacies, presented by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition of American History; East, Sherlock Holmes display presented by Cathy Woods; South, Corriher-Lipe Middle School Art presented by Lynn Haynes.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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