Miller conducted the study, titled America's Most Literate Cities, in which he "assessed a collection of important factors related to literacy and literate behaviors" and compared this information with the 2000 census data on the population of the area. He then came up with a list of what he deems the most and least literate cities.
The five factors the authors used to determine a literate community are the number of local newspaper subscriptions, the number of persons with a high-school and or college degree, the number of retail booksellers, the number of periodicals published in the area and the number of public and school libraries. These numbers were all compared to the cities population and then ranked in order from 1-64.
Of the five categories, Oklahoma City ranked highest (20 out of 64) in the number of public and school libraries per population and lowest in number of periodicals published locally (43 out of 64). Minneapolis was ranked as the most literate city in the United States and El Paso, Texas, was the least.
Tulsa ranked just ahead of Oklahoma City in the No. 27 spot and New York ranked near the bottom at No. 47.
The biggest surprise to me was that Boston and Las Vegas tied for 13th in the overall category.
These two cities seem worlds apart when you think of literary standing, yet obviously Miller and his colleagues have deemed them the twin cities of literacy.
"The focus is not to examine school achievement test scores, although such scores are undoubtedly correlated with many of the factors measured here," Miller wrote. "Rather, this study analyzes factors directly relating to the literacy of communities and their populations."
There are many ways of judging literacy, and even Miller admits that narrowing the contributing factors was the hardest part of the study.
One factor not used in the study was the number of literacy training centers available per capita and/or the number of volunteer literacy tutors in an area per capita.
Oklahoma City would rank high in both of these categories as we have several strong literacy centers in our city.
When you value a skill enough to want to pass it on to others, that is a true sign of competency.
All in all, I don't think 30th is too bad. We have a great, little city here with libraries, strong newspaper circulation and lots of people buying books.
Let's continue to share our love of reading with those that want to learn how by supporting literacy training in our communities whenever and however possible.
Georgie Rasco is with Oklahoma City Literacy Council Inc. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by mail at The Oklahoman, attn.: Metro Desk (Georgie Rasco), P.O. Box 25125, Oklahoma City, OK 73125.