Every ten years, America counts its population to determine where federal dollars should be spent during the next decade. The accuracy of a state’s count impacts how much of that federal pie will flow in. A bad count can cost a state millions of dollars, impacting the funding of necessary services. When America wrapped up its Census 2020 enumeration on October 15, the Census Bureau reported that 99.9% of Oklahomans had been counted, thanks to self-response and Bureau field operations… and LIBRARIES. Read on to see how Oklahoma’s public libraries helped with this year’s count.
America’s libraries were uniquely positioned in 2020 to play their most important role ever in a decennial count of the country’s residents. The U.S. Census Bureau set a high goal for the 2020 effort: 70% of Census self-responses would be online. As dependable providers of internet access, Oklahoma’s public libraries were ready and excited to help their communities get online to complete the Census and assure an accurate count.
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries launched a Census website in the fall of 2019 to help libraries and the public stay up-to-date and informed on preparation for the count. ODL appropriated federal dollars from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support Oklahoma libraries’ efforts. The funds were used for a “Get Counted at Your Library” initiative that provided promotional materials for all public libraries. The funding also provided 16 grants to help communities target hard-to-count populations and improve Census responses. The agency held a Census Solutions workshop for libraries and literacy councils to brainstorm ideas on reaching hard-to-count groups, developing grant proposals, and identifying local partners to aid the count.
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) has awarded 23 Health Literacy Grants totaling more than $161,000 to libraries and adult literacy programs for the 2020-2021 grant cycle. Grantees will use the funds to provide a variety of health and wellness programs for the state’s residents. Programs during the 2019-2020 cycle attracted a record 32,000 Oklahomans, many of them participating in virtual programming because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each year, grant applicants propose programs to meet their community’s identified health needs. This year’s programs will include information sessions on physical and mental health, virtual and outside exercise classes, cooking and nutrition classes, community vegetable gardens, Story Walks in public parks, and even a bicycle safety and bicycle lending program.
Now in its eighth year, Oklahoma’s Health Literacy Initiative is attracting almost 20,000 participants annually
It’s Thursday morning in Mustang, and the local public library is welcoming 82 participants to Mustang Town Center for the first of six classes on Tai Chi, the ancient Chinese exercise that helps people improve their balance, movement, and memory.
A rainy morning and a day where the wind came sweeping down the plains didn’t stop a record crowd from turning out for the 2nd Oklahoma Book Festival on Saturday, September 21.
Festival vendor Factor 110 estimates more than 3,000 individuals headed to the Oklahoma City Boathouse District to hear the 100+ presenters from Oklahoma and across the nation as they discussed their latest books—an increase from last year’s estimate of more than 2,500 in attendance.
Headliners were the big draw, with a total of 427 people attending sessions in the Ida Sutton Williams Headliner Tent to hear presentations on popular current titles, from Scott Pelley’s Truth Worth Telling, to WK Stratton’s book on the movie The Wild Bunch, to Mystery writer Anne’s Hillerman’s latest work, The Tale Teller.
A rain-soaked Friday, October 19—that almost made planners push the panic button—gave way to a sunny and successful Oklahoma Book Festivalon Saturday, October 20, in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District.
A book festival the state could call its own has long been a dream of Oklahoma’s literary community. Budget cuts that effectively slashed ODL’s number of employees by more than 50% over the past two decades didn’t bode well for the agency and its Oklahoma Center for the Book (OCB) to take on such an endeavor.
But take two determined employees (Vicki Mohr, administrator of ODL’s Office of Library Development, and Connie Armstrong, OCB Director), an agency director willing to use federal LSTA funds to help fund the project (Susan McVey), some influential and generous sponsors and partners, some enthusiastic volunteers, and a host of willing authors and illustrators…well, you get a book festival!
Let’s take a look at the successful event by the numbers…