Thanks to Pop Culture Junk Mail for the tip-off on this. An annual study of the “literacy rankings” of the 69 largest cities in the US has just released its 2007 results, and America’s most-literate city is…well, technically there are two. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota occupy first and third place on the list, separated by 2006’s number-one ranked city, Seattle, Washington. USA Today has reported on the results and some summary interpretations, as have some of the local newspapers in the cities on the list, particularly those that made it into the Top 10.
Congratulations to the Top 10!
The Top Ten
|St. Paul, MN||3|
|St. Louis, MO||6|
|San Francisco, CA||7|
The study considers the following criteria in determining a city’s literacy:
- newspaper circulation
- number of bookstores
- library resources
- periodical publishing resources
- educational attainment
- Internet resources
Details about the individual criteria categories, methodology and data sources, and, of course, the full rankings are online at the study’s website.
California as a state doesn’t acquit itself terribly well. After San Francisco, the next-most-literate city is our state capital, Sacramento, at #25. Los Angeles? Not even in the Top 50 – 53rd of 69 (a little better than my old hometown of Memphis, back at #59). That may be why I haven’t heard about this before…
The detailed rankings for each category are full of fascinating factoids, if you have time to take a look at them. But as the USA Today article notes, “(the study’s) findings echo those in a National Endowment for the Arts report last month. The NEA focused on reading for pleasure, but both the NEA and (AMLC) conclude that even as more Americans are earning high school and college degrees, reading is declining. And that raises red flags, both agree, about everything from economic success to civic participation to the quality of life in a community and a nation.” I can’t disagree with that – as an indicator, it seems like it’s right up (or down) there with the finding that 25% of Americans didn’t read a single book last year.