The entire Saint PaulLibrary system has been designated as Questionnaire Assistance Centers and weare so listed on the census’s web site. What this means is that we have said that we will help people fill outtheir census forms.
We should always make itclear that we are not Census Bureau employees.
There will be three waysto answer the census:
- · Online at 2020Census.gov
- · On the phone—the number is not yet available(for security reasons they say)
- · Filling out a paper form and mailing it in thepost paid envelop provided.
The online form will beactive from March 1st – July 31st.
At first, most peoplewill only receive an invitation to fill out the census. This invitation will be specific to theaddress and will contain a number that they will enter into the censusform. Some people will receive a paperform instead. Both of these forms will be specific to the address it is sentto. The library, therefore, will nothave blank paper forms available.
The address to go to startthe online form is 2020Census.gov. Therewill no doubt be scam sites set up, so don’t use Google to find the site, butenter this address directly into the browser. This will also be the go-to site for any questions that come up.
There is no citizenship question.
The only people who willhave access to the raw data are Census Bureau employees. Everyone else will only have access toaggregate data—numbers for a particular group of zip codes. The raw data will be unavailable for 72years.
In past census years,there were short forms and long forms. For this census there is only the short form.
The online census isavailable in 13 languages—the desired language can be selected at the top ofthe census page. These languages willalso be available for the phone census. Significantly,these languages do not include Hmong or Somali. For these languages there are printable guides to answering the form.
Reasons for answering thecensus and making sure you are counted:
- · Federal House of Representatives districts areallotted by the census. Minnesota isprojected to “probably” lose a House seat, but if there is a significantundercount this will happen for sure.
- · State Senate and House districts are also drawnon the basis of the census.
- · 15 billion dollars of Federal money comes toMinnesota based on our census numbers. If there is an undercount, that money will be less.
- · $2.7 million dollars comes to the state forpublic libraries, so we have a stake in making sure everyone is counted.
- · Minnesota state government also uses censusnumbers to allocate moneys. If your areais undercounted, the money your area should have gotten will go to another areathat was better counted.
- · Businesses and other organizations also usecensus data to make decisions, such as where to put stores and provideservices.
- Only one person peraddress should answer the census. Itwould probably be a good idea, before beginning the process, to ask the personif they have all the needed information. That is, at a minimum, the ages, birthdates, and race of everyone livingat the address.
The actual census day isApril 1st. This means thequestions should be answered based on where people are living on that day. There are, of course, exceptions. The census answers should be based on wherethe person will be living most of the year. For example, if a person is on vacation on April 1st, theanswers should be based on where they live most of the time. For children that live in two differentplaces in a year, the answers should be based on where they live most of thetime during the year. If it is 50/50,then the answers should be based on where they will be living on April 1st.
The online census must beanswered in one sitting. If the form isnot submitted, and the person signs off of the computer, all the enteredinformation will be lost. If there is nomovement of the mouse for 13 minutes, the program will time out and they willneed to begin anew.
Once the census responsehas been submitted, it cannot be edited. If something changes (for example, a baby that was supposed to arriveafter April 1st comes early, you may be able to call the censusnumber and have them update the information. (The presenters thought this will be the case, but weren’t positive.)
While the form has anumber of questions, the only ones that are mandatory and must be answered areage, date of birth, and race for each person in the household. All other questions are answered at thediscretion of the person answering the census. There will be a “soft” warning that some items on a page have been leftblank for these questions, but the respondent will be able to click through itwithout answering the question.
Note that it issuggested, but not required, to enter names. You will need a unique answer for each person in the household, but youcan enter nicknames, or any other term that will allow the person answering thecensus to remember who is who. Forexample: “Individual 1, Individual 2, and so on” are valid answers.
Sex is another questionthat is not required to answer, if the person chooses not to.
While you can assist theperson in answering the questions, you cannot provide the answers forthem. The census is“self-determining.” This means that theperson answering the census provides the answers as they see fit. While you can explain what the information beingrequested is, do not, in any case, tell the person what they “should” answer.
You can, if need be, typeor write in the answers for the person, but again, the answers are to beprovided by the respondent themselves.
People can use our Wi-Fito answer the census if they wish.
Questionnaire Assistance Center training video:
--Ron P. @GLCL with links from Erin Z.R.
Don't be reactive,instead respond.
De-escalation is notproblem solving. In a situation that may escalate, you want to de-escalate(decrease the intensity and magnitude of the situation) now and problem solve(think of solutions) at a later date. Your primary concern is safety.
Keeping safety in mind,do not allow yourself to be the barrier between de-escalating a situation. Thishappens when your train of thought goes to these areas:
- I am the authority
- I need to be in control
- Rules are rules
- They need to...
- I must defend myself (verbally)
Things that will escalatea situation:
- saying "calm down"
- saying "you shouldn't/you need to/if you don't, then..."
- getting in another person's space
- refusing to listen
- invalidating feelings
- blaming, shaming, criticizing
- being sarcastic
We may judge things associally inappropriate, but that is also assuming people can self-regulate(telling someone to "calm down"). Keep in mind those with mentalhealth challenges are doing what they can.
You may not get the lastword, but if you get the last action (they stop doing x), you have successfullynavigated an encounter.
- give the person space
- adopt an assertive (not aggressive) posture (open palms, mid-height)
- make eye contact (or mimic level of contact)
- adopt a safe angle (from the side, not directly, allowing both parties to exit freely)
- Paraphrase (patron's feelings, wants, thoughts) [ex. "You feel frustrated with xyz"]
- Support Statement [ex. "I agree, it can be frustrating…"]
- Validation Statement (Agree the situation is dumb, annoying, stupid...) [ex. "You’re right to feel that way. It must be frustrating to always xyz"]
- Apologize [ex. "I'm really sorry, but...] (the rule is stupid, not the patron)
- Offer to help
- Ask them to do something
You can still set limitswhile de-escalating.
if you don't calm down, I'll call the police
I don't want to have to call the police here,help me work out a better solution.
"Please stepback." (when/if they do, thank them)
"I hate to do thisbut..."
When someone is reactingwith emotions and instincts, they are not being rational. Beyond enforcing arule or getting someone to understand your policies, safety is most important.Genuinely connecting with empathy will help in most situations. With a strongenough connection, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one.
You approach a patron(from the side) about their use of loud profanity.
You: I’m sorry, but Ihave to ask you to lower your voice and watch your language.
Patron: YOU PEOPLE AREALWAYS COMING AFTER ME!
You: I’m sorry if itfeels that way. It must be very frustrating always being told what to do, butit’s our policy if you want to continue to use the library.
Patron: *grumbles underbreath angrily*
You: Thank you. Pleaselet us know if we can be of any help.
--> although thepatron wasn’t happy to do so, you still got the desired result (they stoppedusing loud profanity)
A patron comes up to youangry and upset.
Patron: These kids areswearing and being loud. I told them to please be respectful of the space andthey called me names. They have no respect. You people don’t do anything.
You: I’m so sorry. Youshould never feel like you have to respond directly. Please know it’s neveryour responsibility to talk to them. Let staff know if there’s a problem and wewill step in. It’s absolutely not acceptable for you to feel unsafe in thisspace.
Patron: I mean, I seethese kids every day and they seem so out of control.
You: I know. And weappreciate you coming to use the library. We do try to talk to the kids andgive them warnings, but we try not to make banning our first course of action.For some of our patrons, they have nowhere else to go and we want to give thema chance to correct their behavior.
Patron: I get that. I’mnot heartless. I’m just frustrated.
You: I understand. Thankyou for letting us know. It’s important that you feel welcome to come here aswell. We’ll try to be more firm with the kids.
Patron: I’m sorry. I knowif they had better role models, it’d be different. Anyway, I just wanted to getthat off my chest.
You: Thank you. I’ll gotalk to the kids now.
--> This is a reallife example of a patron starting out angry and upset and switching over tocalm and understanding based on the connection made (including an apology andthanks). The kids also heard the exchange and straightened up immediately, butwere also warned that they would be done for the day if they acted up again.
A patron stands veryclose to you in a threatening manner.
You: Sir/Ma’am, I’m goingto ask you to take a step back.
Patron: (steps back) Areyou listening to me??
You: Thank you. I hearwhat you’re saying. I know it’s frustrating. If you’d like, we can sit down andtalk about this.
Patron: (steps forward)No, we can talk about this right now!
You: Please take a step backif you’d like to talk.
Patron: (steps back) Thisis BS.
You: Thank you. Pleasetell me about the issue you’re having.
--> thank people forthe desired actions they take. A reminder that it may not always end happily,but if no one was hurt, the interaction was a success.
Also a reminder, you are not responsible for puttingyourself bodily in harm’s way
. You know what is right for you. If you arein danger, do what you can to get yourself out of danger. De-escalating is justone tool you can use, not the only tool.
I attendedthe training Race – Power of an Illusionoffered by the City of Saint Paul Human Resources department. This training consists of a three- part videoand discussion about each section. The firstis titled “The Differences Between Us,” and it shatters the idea of race havinga biological or scientific basis. Inthis part of the video, a group of students sequence and compare theirDNA. They find their closest geneticmatch is as likely to be someone from another race as their own. We learned there is no genetic basis thatdivides us into racial groups. Any twoindividuals within a racial group can be as different biologically asanyone. The secondpart of the training is “The Story We Tell.” In this part the concept of race as a modern idea is introduced. It’s only a few hundred years old and can belinked to America’s need for labor, land and development. After finding an unending supply of labor, inthe form of African slaves, America defended slavery despite the strong beliefin freedom for all. The forced removalof Native Americans from their own land was defended by President Jackson aswhat happened to inferior people when faced with a superior race. There were scientists at the time whobelieved Black people were created to be slaves, and were incapable of livingon an socially equitable level with white people. The thirdpart, “The House We Live In,” looks at how institutions in the United Statesbenefit white people by offering opportunities to them that aren’t available toall. At the beginning of the twentiethcentury many immigrants started arriving from eastern and southern Europe. They had to prove they were white to takeadvantage of government programs and policies available only to whites. Theability to buy a home in an area where property values increased wasn’tavailable to some ethnic Europeans and Blacks. The equity and wealth based on increasing home values was limited tothose whom the courts deemed white.
On April 24, I attended the Minnesota Library Financial Education Workshop, an all-day training offered through the Minnesota Department of Education-State Library Services and facilitated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The presenters and panel participants shared expert information, though I would say it was difficult to see how to directly apply this information to libraries, and no discussion was offered regarding the information vs advice conundrum we have as librarians. It was also clear from the presenters and fellow library attendees that the workshop was geared towards the needs of suburban communities—only one panel addressed the needs of the underserved.
I tried below to share only what I thought might be useful to librarians and/or in a library setting. I did come away with a bag with a State Fair’s-worth handouts from each organization, so please let me know if there’s interest in reviewing them. Sadly, the only true swag was a pen from the Better Business Bureau with a stylus on one end, but you’re welcome to it.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Community Partnerships program
Built by libraries for libraries:
- Community partnerships
- Clear information and resources
- Libraries can sign up for a monthly newsletter
Free publications Consumer tools
Retirement – Social Security Administration
- Build your Future: Social Security, Pension, Investments, Other Income
- Born after 1960: 100% benefit at age 67
- Free publications
- Sign up for a “my Social Security” online account to view benefits, statements, etc.
- Benefits calculators
Resources for Young Adults panel - Best Prep, Jump $tart Coalition, Family Means, MN Department of Education
Barriers for youth:
- No guidance; fear of money
- Different home experiences
- Classes are electives, not required
- Parents are reluctant to talk about it
- Cultural or status stigma around talking about it
- Inability to “practice in a safe space”
Youth should start right now:
- Understanding luxury vs necessity (wants vs needs)
- Tracking expenses
- Limits and goals on saving and spending
- Know your weaknesses (ie., Starbucks) and what you value (ie., family time)
- Gain spreadsheet skills (both for budgeting and future employment)
- Parents should resist being guilted
Student Loans and Financial Aid:
- Career and College Readiness Research Guide – MN Department of Education
- Develop unique skills and talents – invest in YOU
- Don’t borrow more in total than you think you’ll earn your first year out of college
- Sit down and really look at your financial aid award letters – do the math!
- Look at what are the growing fields for employment
- Don’t visit schools you can’t afford – no point in falling in love if it’s too expensive
- Use each school’s Net Price Calculator to get an idea of the costs
Financial Planning Basics – Association of Financial Educators
- Cashflow – income and expenses
- Risk Management – ie., insurance
- Income Taxes
- Retirement – aka financial independence
- Estate – passing it on
- A plan for the unplanned
- A Rainy Day Fund – 3-6 months of fixed expenses
Financial Planning Day (pro bono CFPs) – annually in October at Wilder Center
Credit and Debt Management – University of Minnesota Extension Service
- Credit score ≠ Credit Report
- Consumers get 3 free credit reports (1 each from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) per year through annualcreditreport.com
- 25% of credit reports have errors
- Consumers may check their own report as many times per year as they want – doesn’t affect anything
- Best referral: Lutheran Social Services Financial Counseling
Resources for Financially Vulnerable, Immigrants, & Underserved Communities panel
Prepare and Prosper
- Defines ‘underserved’ as: cash only, payday loans, no mainstream accounts, low income, unbanked, New Americans, LEP (Limited English Proficiency)
- Provides credit and financial coaching, tax preparation, ITIN applications, referrals
- Summer and fall tax clinics (income limits)
- EIC-Earned Income Credit – largest poverty tool from the US government. Very effective, can refund 30-35% of income. In MN, 1 in 5 who qualify do not claim it.
- Exodus Lending – will buy payday loans, client only has to pay principal (no interest). Located near Raymond/University.
United Way 211
Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
- Avoid payday loans
- Look up lenders on MN Dept of Commerce License Lookup
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Fraud Prevention panel:
Commodity Futures Trading Commission Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota
Federal Trade Commission
Financial Industry Regulatory Advisory Corporation (FINRA)
--Laura, George Latimer Central Library
I recently had the opportunity to learn about Heading Home Ramsey
(HHR) at a City Council Organizational Committee meeting. HHR is a collaborative of organizations that serve people who are experiencing homelessness or formerly homeless people. The coalition forms the federally mandated governing board for the Continuum of Care for Ramsey County. The Continuum of Care is all resources and services for homeless response that includes prevention (financial assistance, family assistance grants, dispute resolution with landlords), outreach (resources and case management), drop-in centers, emergency shelters, Coordinated Entry
, and supportive housing (transitional housing, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing). The members of HHR
consist of formerly homeless people, service providers, housing providers, local government, advocacy organizations, schools, health providers, and law enforcement. Some of the members are funded by HHR and are required to be members.
Heading Home Ramsey works to prevent and end homelessness through the Continuum of Care. HHR is responsible for setting funding priorities and administering federal, state, city, and philanthropic funds; implementing and monitoring Coordinated Entry; and evaluating outcomes of funding projects. HHR administers approx. $8.5 million each year and organizations that receive grant dollars also match funds.
In a survey from Oct. 2018, Wilder research found 1,927 people experiencing homelessness in Ramsey County, though there may be many more who are uncounted. A lack of shelter beds forces many to double-up with friends/family/neighbors/strangers or sleep in places not meant for human habitation. Not only is this unsafe and unhealthy, but it leads people being hidden from data and fewer resources follow. Many experience common barriers to housing such at poor credit, disability, eviction record, criminal record, and mental health issues. The lack of affordable housing and Section 8 housing also adds to the issue.
HHR has asked the City to make affordable housing a priority, provide incentives for landlords to rent to people with barriers, support tenant training, reform regulations to support tenants, expand shelter resources, and work with service providers to improve homeless response.
--Katrina H-T, George Latimer Central Library