Tagged: US Census Bureau

ALA 2011: Census 2010: What It Can Tell Our Funders

The presenter was Greg Prewett (I am unsure of the spelling), US Census Bureau employee. The presenter suggested that Census data can be used to support funding requests. The presentation was basically a demonstration of a new and an old version of American Fact Finder (AFF), the main vehicle for accessing Census data. The new version contains 2010 numbers, and the old version contains older Census numbers. By the end of 2011, all statistics will be on the new version, and the old version will be closed.

It was quite clear during the demonstration that AFF had some problems. During the presentation, Prewett would think of a topic or location to look up in order to show how to do something, and when he looked it up, he wouldn’t find it. Every time this happened, he would “adjust” what he was supposedly looking for to match what he actually found. For example, he looked up the address of the White House and received a list of locations in North Carolina. Instead of continuing to search until he found the White House, he settled for the same address in NC. A reference librarian could never do that! The presenter could, however, because if was a hypothetical question. Every time this happened though, it left the impression that AFF is hard to use. In fact, he said that rather than go through the search options offered on AFF, he always Googled what he was looking for and selected the Census.gov information that appeared on the Google results list. An audience member pointed out that his habit of Googling instead of using the AFF search options was indicative of the poor quality of AFF as a means to locate Census data.

There was no actual discussion of using Census data to support funding requests. Instead, the focus was on how to use AFF. This might have made a great two-part presentation with co-presenters, one person who knew about how to get library funding to explain how to do so, and the Census Bureau employee showing how to find the data that would be included in a funding request.

FYI: As of April 1, 2010, the United States officially had 308,745,538 people.