I just came across a USA Today story on a study that ranks Atlanta the fourth “most literate” among the country’s 75 largest cities. (The study’s author uses the term “literate” to refer to whether people do read, not just to whether they can read.)
Atlanta placed highest among cities in the Southeast. Raleigh, N.C. was the next-highest ranking Southeastern city at 13th.
2010 was the eighth year for the study, which was conducted by Central Connecticut State University. The city has seen a steady climb through the rankings for the past four years after falling from a tie with Washington, D.C. for third place in 2006 to eighth place in 2007.
The author formulated the results by comparing cities with a population of at least 250,000 based on six criteria:
- Internet resources to access books and newspapers
- The number of bookstores per 10,000 residents
- Education level
- Library staffing, holdings and rate of utilization relative to the population size
- Newspaper circulation
- Magazine and journal circulation numbers relative to the population size
“It’s a surprise to me, ” Chantal, a member of the staff at A Capella Books in Little Five Points, said of the study’s conclusions. Chantal declined to give her last name, but said that she’s lived in Raleigh and that she was surprised that it landed so much lower in the study’s rankings than Atlanta.
“Raleigh seems like a more literate city to me than Atlanta,” she said. Independent bookstores are more plentiful there and “People seem more into literary culture, ” she said.
Edward VanHorn, executive director of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, hesitated to render an opinion on the accuracy of the study results as he wasn’t familiar with the data the author used. SNPA concerns itself more with promoting literacy as it relates to the skill of reading, VanHorn said.
He did say that it was “fascinating” that Atlanta came out so near the top of the list, given that he doesn’t often see people reading books or walking around with a newspaper tucked under one arm.
What do you think? Is Atlanta lower, higher, or just where it should be in the results? Or is this another one for the “grain of salt” file?