America’s Most Literate Cities:
10. San Francisco, CA
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 25.7 (34th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 53.6% (2nd highest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 2.21 (29th most)
> Median income: $73,012 (3rd highest)
San Francisco adults were among the most educated in 2012 — more than half had at least a bachelor’s degree, second-best among all cities reviewed by CCSU. Residents preferred to read books more than residents of the vast majority of other cities. Active readers also used online resources and e-readers very effectively, whether to order reading materials or read the news. San Francisco’s public library system is extensive, with 27 public libraries located throughout the city. The Main Library, which has suffered from violence and patron complaints, announced last year it would invest in more security and custodial staff.
9. St. Louis, MO
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 50.7 (14th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 30.4% (37th highest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 3.83 (15th most)
> Median income: $31,997 (8th lowest)
CCSU gave St. Louis better marks for its magazine and journal publications than all but one other city. The city’s journals and magazine enterprises had among the highest circulation rates in 2013. Libraries were also well-staffed that year, and residents had ready access to media specialists. For every 1,000 people, there was one staff member, more than in every major city except for Cleveland, which despite not making this year’s list, had the best library system in the country. Literacy may improve even more in the St. Louis region following the extensive 2012 renovations of the more than 100-year-old downtown St. Louis public library. The renovated library was well-received by local residents and architects alike. The library won the American Institute of Architects 2014 Honor Award for Architecture.
8. Boston, MA
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 53.6 (12th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 43.3% (11th highest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 3.00 (21st most)
> Median income: $51,642 (18th highest)
Boston residents were the second-most likely to use a mobile device or the Internet to consume media. As a hub for higher education and learning, it may be surprising Boston was not rated better for literacy. Dr. Miller explained that although higher education tends to increase literacy, the city’s high school dropout rate prevented a better rating. More than 43% of Boston adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, among the best rates nationwide. High school graduation rates, on the other hand, were not particularly good, at less than 85% that year.
7. St. Paul, MN
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 68.0 (6th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 40.1% (16th highest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 6.43 (6th most)
> Median income: $48,235 (26th highest)
St. Paul continued to have the most bookstores of any city and the greatest variety of them in 2013. According to the report, St. Paul is one of the best cities in the country to find rare books. There were just 13 libraries in St. Paul, less than in most other cities, but with a population of less than 300,000 people, the library system was more than sufficient.
6. Denver, CO
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 63.5 (7th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 44.7% (9th highest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 2.63 (26th most)
> Median income: $50,488 (23rd highest)
While newspapers have become less popular in recent years, there were still more than 400,000 weekday subscriptions in circulation in the Denver area. In addition, there were more than 600,000 Sunday papers in the area, both more than in most other cities. Denver also has a high quality and well-used library system. There were more than 9.5 million items loaned to the more than 600,000 library users in 2012.