Methodology 2008

Selection of Cities for Inclusion

Cities were selected based on their 2007 U.S. Census population figures. The study was limited to those cities with a population of 250,000 or larger as of July 1, 2007. Two new cities were added this year: Glendale, AZ (population 253,152) and Fort Wayne, IN (population 251,247).

Newspaper Data

For the newspaper database, the Daily and Sunday Circulation figures were obtained from the Audit Bureau of Circulation FAS-FAX Report 3/31/2008 ( Those numbers were divided by the 2007 U.S. Census population figures for the cities resulting in a ratio, which was then rank ordered. Five cities (Anaheim, CA, Arlington, TX, Glendale, AZ, Plano, TX, and Aurora, CO) had no newspaper published in their city that participates in the ABC report.

Internet Data

Figures for read a newspaper online and purchased a book online were obtained from Scarborough Research's February 2007-March 2008 USA+2008 Release. Cities were ranked according to the index figures provided by Scarborough. Please note that Scarborough did not have data for the following cities: Long Beach, CA; Mesa, AZ; Plano, TX; Corpus Christi, TX; Aurora, CO; Arlington, TX; New Britain, CT; Anaheim, CA; Omaha, NE; Riverside, CA; Anchorage, AK; Santa Ana, CA; Fort Wayne, IN; Glendale, AZ: and Newark, NJ. Hence, all of those cities were ranked last.

Previous iterations of this survey used figures for a variable called internet accessibility, which relied upon a database obtained from Intel Corporation's 3rd Annual Most Unwired Cities survey, which ranked the top 100 U.S. cities and regions for the greatest wireless Internet accessibility. That database has become outdated and is no longer used in the America's Most Literate Cities survey. Similarly, figures used for a variable called number of internet terminals at public libraries were obtained from the Fiscal Year 2005 Public Libraries Survey from the National Center for Education Statistics website. That database has become outdated and is no longer used in the survey.

Magazines and Journals Data

Figures for this database were gathered from the web edition of the National Directory of Magazines (2009) for magazines and the Standard Periodical Directory (2008) for journals through the website of Oxbridge Communications. Only those journals with a total circulation of 500 or more were included, and only those magazines with a total circulation of 2,500 or more were included.

Booksellers and Stores Data

For this database, information was gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau website ( (2007 population)), as well as Yellow Pages, Inc. ( (2008)) for information on retail, rare, and used booksellers. Also, the American Booksellers Association site ( (2008)) was used for independent bookseller information. Please note that for figures reported for retail, these did not include any specialty, adult, or religious bookstores, and the stores were those listed at these database sites in September of 2008.

Educational Attainment Data

For this database, information was gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau's “American Factfinder” website (, specifically from the results of the American Community Survey, 2007. The Educational Attainment data were gathered from the geographic subset listed as, “Principal City of a Metropolitan Statistical Area.”

Library Data

Information regarding library staff per capita, volumes per capita, circulation per capita, and branches per capita was gleaned from National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) database, specifically the Library Statistics Program and its Public Libraries Survey FY2005.

Please note that the number of library staff listed for Chicago, IL reflects only librarians, as the total library staff figures were not reported.

NCES information regarding the number of students and media specialists in the cities' public school systems, which had been a variable in previous rankings, was not available at the time of publication, and so that variable has not be included in this year's ranking.