Why is this important?
Strong literacy and communication skills are more essential than ever to realizing one’s full potential. Our residents place a priority on encouraging adults to read. Studies estimate that 20% of adults in Tuolumne County function at the lowest reading level. Risk indicators for literacy challenges include low income, low educational attainment, unemployment status, and low voter registration.
What is the measure?
We used the Reading Quotient as the measure. It is calculated by adding public library circulation to the total number of books; this sum is divided by the population. This is used because directly measuring the literacy rate is difficult. However, the reading quotient gives a good indication by looking at the books available in the library, and how often they are checked out.23
How are we doing?
In June 2003 Tuolumne County had the second lowest reading quotient among libraries compared to Amador and Calaveras counties. This indicator of reading habits has climbed steadily, with a 9% gain in the past three years.
For nearly 25 years, the library had few service hours and an extremely limited book budget. Recently, improved funding for the library has allowed regular updating to the book collections, as well as improving facilities and service hours.
These improvements are reflected in the increasing reading quotient. Even so, Tuolumne County Library has fewer books than libraries in Amador and Calaveras counties. Continued emphasis on updating book collections can be expected to increase our reading quotient. This in turn can be an indicator of promoting and improving adult literacy over time.