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Literacy and the Imaginary Competition of Libraries, Newspapers and Bookstores

Here’s an interesting article and study to stimulate debate:
Declining U.S. Newspaper Circulation Potentially Signals Decline In Literacy Critical To Nation’s Economic Health
This article is based on a study “titled “America’s Most Literate Cities 2008,” which identified the top ten literate U.S. cities in this order: tied for first are Minneapolis, MN and Seattle WA, followed by Washington, DC, St. Paul, MN, San Francisco, CA, Atlanta, GA, Denver, CO, Boston, MA, St. Louis, MO, and Cincinnati, OH and Portland, OR tied for tenth.
“”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. The 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,”” Dr. Jack Miller (president of Central Connecticut State University] says.
Interesting points:
1. Top ranking cities for library use also have more booksellers
2. Cities with more booksellers also have more people buying books online
3. Cities with higher per capita newspaper circulation rates also had a higher proportion of people reading newspapers online.
4. “Cities that rank highly in one form of literate behavior are likely to rank highly in the other forms and practices of literacy,” Miller said.
5. “Literate society tends to practice many forms of literacy not just one or another.”
6. “Preliminary research shows that while newspaper paid circulation and advertising are going up worldwide, it is going down in the U.S.”
7. “Americans are doing less well than global competitors on a key index of literacy”
The fulltext of the report is here.
Miller is now working on a similar study of international literacy.

Posted on: December 30, 2008, 12:57 pm Category: Uncategorized

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