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Columbus ranks 16th in “Most Literate Cities”

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Columbus residents are smart, but not as smart as Clevelanders and Cincinnatians, at least according to a national survey.

The 2010 Central Connecticut State University-produced list of “Most Literate Cities” ranked Columbus No. 16 in the nation.

Columbus improved from its 2009 rank of No. 22, an all-time low for the city. Over the list’s six years of production, Columbus has ranked as high as No. 12 in 2005.

The latest list shows Columbus ranked the third most literate city in Ohio, being bested by Cincinnati (11) and Cleveland (14). Ohio was the only state to boast three cities in the list’s top 20.

Topping the rankings for 2010 is Washington D.C., followed by Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

The list’s author, CCSU president John W. Miller, said the rankings were based on six indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation per citizen, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources.

Ohio State is viewed as a key element for Columbus’ strong showing in this type of ranking system, said Joy Watson, executive director of the Columbus Literacy Council.

“Any time you’re around a college campus, I think you see students are interested in having access to those types of materials,” Watson said. She also said Columbus’ other universities play a large roll in the ranking.

“(OSU) probably pertains most to the educational attainment indicator that goes into the measurement,” said Claudia Buchmann, an OSU sociology professor.

Columbus’ lowest ranking out of the six categories, 38th in the nation, was in newspaper circulation, which was measured by dividing newspaper circulation by the city’s population. Daily and weekend circulation were accounted for.

The library resource category proved to be a highlight for Ohio cities. Cleveland was ranked No. 2 in the nation, followed by Cincinnati and Toledo, who were tied for fifth. Library resources were also Columbus’ high point in all the categories, with a ranking of 10th in the nation.

“Ohio has a strong tradition of outstanding libraries. Several studies and ranking systems put Ohio libraries at the top of the list,” said Kim Snell, Columbus Metropolitan Library media relations director. “We are fortunate that the people in our state, and especially Columbus, value our organization, its programs and services. But again, there is always room for improvement.”

Snell, Buchmann and Watson all referred to Columbus Metropolitan Library receiving a 2010 national Library of the Year Award from “Library Journal.” Although awards were not specifically taken into consideration for the list of rankings, many of the same attributes apply to the list and the award. 

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