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Literacy for Life: Study measures most literate cities

By Georgie Rasco Published: November 25, 2003
As much as we love our fair city, we don't often think of Oklahoma City as a bastion of literary activity. However, in a study recently published by Jack Miller, Ph.D., professor of education at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, we definitely hold our own. Oklahoma City was ranked as the 30th most literate city out of the top 64 cities with a population of 250,000 or more.

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.

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