According to “America’s Most Literate Cities 2008”, top honors were shared between two cities that have traded the top spots during the course of the six years of the study; Minneapolis, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington.
According to the study’s author, Dr. Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, “This study attempts to capture one critical index of our nation’s well-being — the literacy of its major cities–by focusing on six key indicators of literacy:
- newspaper circulation,
- number of bookstores,
- library resources,
- periodical publishing resources,
- educational attainment, and
- Internet resources.
Miller notes that this information is compared against population rates in each city to develop “…a per capita profile of the city’s “long-term literacy”-a set of factors measuring the ways people use their literacy-and thus presents a large-scale portrait of our nation’s cultural vitality.”
Two Critical Concerns
For the 2008 edition, Miller also examined two critical concerns. In announcing the results, he noted that a point commonly made about the decline of newspaper circulation is that it is caused by the rise of reading newspapers online.
“The conventional wisdom here is the same as for the decline in bookstores: it’s caused by the rise in online book buying. And that is the same conventional wisdom that, pre-internet, claimed that library use and support of bookstores were mutually incompatible. More free book sources would be associated with fewer bookstores,” he said. And in all cases, the conventional wisdom is wrong, according to Miller. Examining the data for this and his past surveys, Miller notes that cities ranked highly for having better-used libraries also have more booksellers; that cities with more booksellers also have a higher proportion of people buying books online; and that cities with newspapers with high per capita circulation rates also have a high proportion of people reading newspapers online. “Cities that rank highly in one form of literate behavior are likely to rank highly in the other forms and practices of literacy,” according to Miller. A literate society tends to practice many forms of literacy not just one or another.
The rest of the top ten are:
- Washington, DC
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- San Francisco, California
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Denver, Colorado
- Boston, Massachusetts
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Portland, Oregon
The rest of the list is at http://www.ccsu.edu/AMLC08/overall_all.htm
The study is available online at: www.ccsu.edu/AMLC08 .