Central Connecticut State University released a ranking of “America’s Most Literate Cities 2009”. Since I posted only yesterday about reading and books in New Zealand, I was interested.
What I found was that “This study focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources.” All those categories are defined on the CCSU study site.
To calculate how “literate” a place is, one has to have things that can be measured, and they picked some of what they thought were good indicators. I thought some were a bit odd, or oddly defined.
When I talked about reading in New Zealand, I referred to a time and use study, which is a way of measuring if people themselves are literate by how much time they spend reading. I decided to see how Auckland fared using just a couple of their indicators:
Bookstores: There are approximately 1.2 bookstores per 10,000 people in Auckland—this is all bookstores, across all categories, calculated using a search tally from the Yellow Pages.
Newspaper readership: In 2008, 39.4% of Aucklanders aged 15+ read a typical issue of the daily New Zealand Herald, and 23.7% read the Herald on Sunday. In addition, 11.9% of Aucklanders aged 15+ read a typical copy of the Sunday News, and 18.5% read the Sunday Star-Times. [Source: Nielsen Media National Readership Survey Q1 2008 - Q4 2008 Nationwide face to face interviewing of 12,000 people aged 10+]
These are crude statistics, in part because spending only a little time on the afternoon of December 24 meant I couldn’t hope to get the same amount of raw data that the study author had. Another reason the statistics aren’t comparable is that I have no idea how they compare to the study’s US cities—those statistics aren’t on the site, only their rankings.
This is just some information I put together after reading the study and became curious; on the Internet, one thing inevitably leads to another, and sharing what’s found is the next logical step. Who knows, one day I may be able to do a more comprehensive examination—or find someone else who has.
The top 10 “most literate” cities in the US are: 1 Seattle, 2 Washington DC, 3 Minneapolis, MN, 4 Pittsburgh, PA, 5 Atlanta, GA, 6 Portland, OR, 7 St. Paul, MN, 8 Boston, MA, 9 Cincinnati, OH and 19 Denver, CO.