December 27, 2007 / 9:10 PM / 10 years ago

Minneapolis tops most literate cities poll

<p>A Northwest Airlines jet prepares to land at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in St. Paul, Minneapolis, in this file photo from August 17, 2005.Eric Miller</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Minneapolis edged past Seattle to claim the top spot as the most literate city in the United States, according to a new survey.

The poll which measures the cultural resources for reading in cities with a population of more than 250,000 awarded the number one position to the Minnesota city based on six key indicators -- newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, education and Internet resources.

St Paul, Minnesota also ranked in the top five.

Although education levels are improving in the United States, people are reading less, according to the poll.

"They're both pretty good in everything and that's how you end up getting a high score overall," John Miller, the president of Central Connecticut State University and the author of the annual ranking of America's Most Literate Cities, said in an interview.

This year, Minneapolis moved up one, reclaiming top spot in the overall ranking. Miller said St. Paul, Minnesota was the "rising star" after moving to third spot compared to 11th five years ago when the first poll was published.

Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, Missouri rounded out the top five sports followed by San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Boston.

Stockton, California placed last at 69th.

Miller cited dropping newspaper circulation figures, and the dwindling number of bookstores as factors that helped to pull rankings lower. But magazine publications increased per capita in 87 percent of the cities included in the study.

Public libraries are still holding their own, according to the study, even though more people are logging on to the Internet to do their reading or are buying books online.

Miller said libraries are surviving in part because they offer free Internet services and are increasing them.

"Cities that tend to be high in Internet literacy also tend to be high in their ranking in newspaper literacy," Miller said. "They tend to be high in both or low in both."

Twenty-four hour television news channels are also affecting people's reading behaviors. Miller said he wasn't surprised that of the 69 ranked cities, the bottom eight are in southwestern states such Texas and California.

"When you've got recent immigrants and people working three jobs trying to just make a living, they're not the same people to likely be subscribing to a daily newspaper and hanging out at a bookstore," Miller explained.

Reporting by Natalie Armstrong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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