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CCSU Study Ranks America's Most Literate Big Cities

Washington Tops List; Seattle Second; New York City Is 26th

Kathleen Megan

January 10, 2011

The most literate city in America is Washington, according to a survey released Monday by Central Connecticut State University, followed by Seattle and Minneapolis.

The study, which has been conducted annually for eight years by Jack Miller, president of CCSU, includes only cities with populations greater than 250,000, so Hartford is not included.

However, if the survey measures were applied to Hartford, the city would rank 26th, pushing New York City down from No. 26 to 27.

Looking back on the past eight years, Miller said in a statement that he sees some worrisome trends, including the decline of newspaper readership and the continuing erosion of book purchasing.

"The decline in newspaper readership is stark," Miller said. "At the beginning of this survey, in 2003, newspapers in Amerca's larger cities had a weekday circulation equivalent to 55 percent of the population of the cities; Sunday circulation was 75 percent."

Now, fewer than one-third read a weekday newspaper on average, Miller said, and fewer than half read a Sunday newspaper.

The survey rates literacy levels using measures on a per capita basis for six items in 2010: newspapers; magazines; libraries; Internet use; education levels; and bookstores.

Among the cities that slipped a few notches this year is Boston, which ranked eighth in 2009 and 12th in 2010. Newspaper readership and the number of booksellers per 10,000 people declined markedly in that city, according to the CCSU release.

If Hartford had been ranked, it would have tied for first with Washington for newspaper circulation per capita. Other measures per capita would have put Hartford 14th for number of libraries and branches, 33rd for booksellers, 77th for education level and 36th for magazine publishers. If New Haven had been ranked, it would have been the 14th most literate city overall.

More information is available at http://www.ccsu.edu/amlc2010.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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