Want To Live Among People Who Like to Read?
Every year, there is a study of which cities (with populations over 250,000) offer the best "culture and resources for reading." Once again, just as they have done for the past several years, Minneapolis and Seattle top the list.
The study does not look at reading test scores or how often people read. Rather, based on six key indicators, it looks at the kinds of literary resources that are available and used. These are newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources.
The analysis suggests that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the availability of free online news is not to blame for the decline in newspapers' print circulation. For example, cities with newspapers that have relatively high circulation rates also have more people reading newspapers online. The analysis also suggests that the decline in bookstores across the country is not caused by the rise in online book buying since cities that ranked higher for having more bookstores also have a higher proportion of people buying books online. In other words, people who elect to read are likely to use whatever forms and services are available and not select one over the other.
For the nation overall, the picture is (as many critics have indicated) is not very bright. In studies of international literacy using measures such as per-capita paid newspaper circulation, the USA ranks only 31st in the world, far behind other countries, including Aruba, Liechtenstein and Japan.
Hopefully, with the nation now in a mood to give more serious consideration to its problems, we will see some positive changes in this realm in the years ahead.
The literate cities study is available online at www.ccsu.edu/amlc08