Libraries at the Centre of the 2021 Census

Libraries at the Centre of the 2021 Census

 Staff across 23 community libraries geared up to help 

Libraries across Devon will be playing a central role with the 2021 census when it’s launched next month. 

Twenty three libraries will be offering support to help people fill out the official forms during the census period 1st March to 4th May

It will be the first census to be run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter in the first week of March with a unique access code, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets. 

Staff at the libraries will be given special training and information to help answer questions and take people step by step through filling in the form. 

Colin Bray, Service Development Manager, Health and Wellbeing from Libraries Unlimited said: “There is nowhere better placed at the heart of communities across Devon than libraries to help people in filling out these important census forms. Our staff have been given full training and all the information they need to help people. They’re ready to support Devon residents and help in this with this once-in-a-decade task. 

“While we are in national lockdown people will be able to make an appointment for help over the phone. When the lockdown eases on April 12th the Prime Minister has said library buildings may reopen. If that happens we will offer PC access and support in person by appointment.” 

The national (England and Wales only) target is for 75% of households to complete the census online without needing to leave their home. 

An estimated 10% of households will automatically receive a print copy of the census copy to complete, and anyone can request a print copy. 

2021 Census

Staff at the following Devon libraries will be given special training to help with the census: 

Appledore, Barnstaple, Bideford, Chudleigh, Crediton, Cullompton, Dartmouth, Exeter, Exmouth, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Kingsbridge, Kingskerswell, Newton Abbot, Northam, Okehampton, Seaton, South Molton, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Torrington  

Telephone or email one of the above libraries to arrange a telephone appointment (or an in-person appointment when lockdown eases).  Library contact details can be found via www.devonlibraries.org.uk or telephone 0345 155 1001. 

The census has been run every 10 years since 1801 – with the exception of during wartime in 1941. It gives an accurate estimate of all the people in households in England and Wales, and is to plan and make decisions on funding and local services such as libraries, health and social care provision, transport, waste collection and education. 

When the first UK census took place in 1801, the population was recorded as 9 million.  At the last census in 2011 the population was 63.2 million.

“A successful census will ensure everyone from local government to charities can put services and funding in the places where they are most needed,” said Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the Office for National Statistics. “That’s why it is so important everyone takes part and we have made it easier for people to do so online on any device, with help and paper questionnaires for those that need them.” 

The census will include questions about sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations. 

If you wish to research the census historic records, you can access Ancestry Library Edition for free using your library membership.  Ancestry has thousands of sources of information and records to help research your family history including the collection of census records 1841 – 1911.  During lockdown free Ancestry home access is available through to 31st March.  Visit www.devonlibraries.org.uk for more information. 

Libraries Unlimited, The Office for National Statistics and Devon County Council are hosting a Census Engagement event for the general public to explain more about census completion. 

  • Find out about how the census will work this year including online completion 
  • Share the importance of completing and encouraging others to complete the census 
  • Demonstrate how census data is used and benefits local communities 
  • Where to find existing census data 
  • Find out how households and individuals can access support to complete the census 
  • Give you an opportunity to ask questions 


This event will be led by: 

Liza Oxford – Census Engagement Officer, Office for National Statistics 

Malcolm Williamson – Census Support Manager, Good Things Foundation 

Simon Chant – Public Health Consultant, Devon County Council 

Colin Bray is a Service Development Manager with Libraries Unlimited 

Join the Census Engagement Event – General Public 

Tuesday 9th March, 7-8pm, free 

Join via Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83183920504?pwd=d0NPYnJORTdkRWk0Q3paY2Zpd2VaZz09

Meeting ID: 831 8392 0504 

Passcode: 753312 

For more information, visit www.census.gov.uk  

Libraries Unlimited is the charity responsible for running Devon and Torbay Libraries. For further information and full contact details please visit our web page www.librariesunlimited.org.uk Find us on Facebook – Libraries Unlimited. 

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