Posts Tagged ‘literacy’

New research has found that people who are illiterate, meaning they never learned to read or write, may have nearly three times greater risk of developing dementia than people who can read and write. The study is published in the November 13, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

According to the United States Department of Education, approximately 32 million adults in the country are illiterate.

“Being able to read and write allows people to engage in more activities that use the brain, like reading newspapers and helping children and grandchildren with homework,” said study author Jennifer J. Manly, Ph.D., of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. “Previous research has shown such activities may reduce the risk of dementia. Our new study provides more evidence that reading and writing may be important factors in helping maintain a healthy brain.”

The study looked at people with low levels of education who lived in northern Manhattan. Many were born and raised in rural areas in the Dominican Republic where access to education was limited. The study involved 983 people with an average age of 77. Each person went to school for four years or less. Researchers asked each person, “Did you ever learn to read or write?” Researchers then divided people into two groups; 237 people were illiterate and 746 people were literate.

Participants had medical exams and took memory and thinking tests at the beginning of the study and at follow-up appointments that occurred every 18 months to two years. Testing included recalling unrelated words and producing as many words as possible when given a category like fruit or clothing.

Researchers found of the people who were illiterate, 83 of 237 people, or 35 percent, had dementia at the start of the study. Of the people who were literate, 134 of 746 people, or 18 percent, had dementia. After adjusting for age, socioeconomic status and cardiovascular disease, people who could not read and write had nearly a three times greater chance of having dementia at the start of the study.

Among participants without dementia at the start of the study, during follow-up an average of four years later, 114 of 237 people who were illiterate, or 48 percent, had dementia. Of the people who were literate, 201 of 746 people, or 27 percent, had dementia. After adjusting for age, socioeconomic status and cardiovascular disease, researchers found that people who could not read and write were twice as likely to develop dementia during the study.

When researchers evaluated language, speed, spatial, and reasoning skills, they found that adults who were illiterate had lower scores at the start of the study. But their test scores did not decline at a more rapid rate as the study progressed.

“Our study also found that literacy was linked to higher scores on memory and thinking tests overall, not just reading and language scores,” said Manly. “These results suggest that reading may help strengthen the brain in many ways that may help prevent or delay the onset of dementia.”

Manly continued, “Even if they only have a few years of education, people who learn to read and write may have lifelong advantages over people who never learn these skills.”

Manly said future studies should find out if putting more resources into programs that teach people to read and write help reduce the risk of dementia.

A limitation of the study was that researchers did not ask how or when literate study participants learned to read and write.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Aging.

Story Source:

Materials provided by American Academy of Neurology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Miguel Arce Rentería, Jet M.J. Vonk, Gloria Felix, Justina F. Avila, Laura B. Zahodne, Elizabeth Dalchand, Kirsten M. Frazer, Michelle N. Martinez, Heather L. Shouel, Jennifer J. Manly. Illiteracy, dementia risk, and cognitive trajectories among older adults with low education. Neurology, 2019; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008587 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008587

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191114180033.htm

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today joined Chicago Public Library (CPL) Commissioner Andrea Telli to announce a new policy to eliminate library late fees and remove outstanding debt for library patrons. Beginning October 1, CPL will eliminate overdue fines on all CPL-owned items currently in circulation, removing unfair barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons. These new policies are the latest in a series of efforts by Mayor Lightfoot to eliminate regressive fines and fees policies that have historically prevented too many Chicagoans from contributing to the local economy, and replace them with new policies to promote economic inclusion for all of Chicago’s communities.

With the announcement, Chicago becomes the largest city, and largest public library system in the U.S., to join the growing movement of eliminating overdue fines. Such fines have increasingly been found to be an ineffective tool in encouraging the return of library materials. Library patrons will still be responsible for returning books, and those who that do not return their books will still need to either replace, or pay for the value of, any materials not returned.

“Like too many Chicagoans, I know what it is like to grow up in financially-challenging circumstances and understand what it is like to be just one bill or one mistake away from crushing debt,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The bold reforms we’re taking to make the Chicago Public Library system fine-free and forgive City Sticker debt will end the regressive practices disproportionately impacting those who can least afford it, ensure every Chicagoan can utilize our city’s services and resources, and eliminate the cycles of debt and generational poverty because of a few mistakes.”

CPL data indicates the disproportionate impact late fines have on different communities in the city, with 1 in 3 patrons in CPL’s South District (below 59th Street) currently unable to check out items because they owe ten dollars or more in fines and fees. In CPL’s North District, from North Avenue to Howard Street, this number drops to 1 in 6. Furthermore, many of the blocked users are those who can benefit most from the resources at Chicago Public Libraries – 1 in 5 suspended library cards citywide belong to children under 14.

“I’m thrilled that CPL has taken this important step towards ensuring that the library is accessible for all,” said CPL Commissioner Andrea Telli. “CPL welcomes home the thousands of Chicagoans who have become disconnected from their local branch due to fines. We are excited to see what we can build together with equitable access to information and learning.”

By October 1, all patrons will have any outstanding overdue fines from CPL materials cleared from their accounts. Materials checked out by CPL patrons will now automatically renew up to fifteen times if there are no holds on the item. Items will be marked as “lost” and accounts will be charged replacement costs one week after the last due date, but the charge will be cleared if the item is returned. Inter-library loan items and Museum Passports (which allow free admission to Chicago museums for) will still be subject to overdue fines.

“This is honestly the most exciting thing to happen at CPL since I’ve been here,” said CPL Branch Manager Lisa Roe. “It’s amazing to ‘walk the walk’ with regard to free and open access for all patrons.”

Research from other fine-free systems has indicated that fines do not increase return rates, and further that the cost of collecting and maintaining overdue fees often outweighs the revenue generated by them. Late fines constitute just 0.7% of CPL’s total budget. Additionally, fine collection often results in negative patron/staff interactions, undermining general public trust and comfort in the public library.

“The essential mission of publicly funded libraries is free, equal and equitable access to information in all its forms,” said America Library Association Executive Director Mary Ghikas. “We applaud Mayor Lightfoot’s and Commissioner Telli’s move to eliminate Chicago Public Library fines, which create economic barriers and negatively impact the working poor, children and marginalized populations. Every member of the community has a right to library service. Eliminating fines in Chicago will transform lives through education and lifelong learning.”

As a result of these policy changes, Chicago Public Library anticipates the return of thousands of outstanding items as well as thousands of patrons whose access to library materials has been impeded by overdue fines.

Chicago Public Library’s previous amnesty periods have shown that eliminating fines has a significant impact on making the library system more accessible for all. The most recent fine amnesty in 2016 resulted in over 15,000 new patrons and patrons returning their cards to good standing and also included a return of over $800,000 of CPL material. When CPL previously offered an amnesty program in 2012, the library received 101,301 overdue items valued at approximately $2 million and waived $641,820 worth of fines. 29,500 users renewed or applied for cards. The late materials ranged from items only a few weeks overdue to one book that had been due in 1934. Almost every item returned was able to be put into circulation within a few days so that other patrons could check them out.

The CPL Board authorized the elimination of overdue fines at their board meeting on September 18, 2019. The board also approved several administrative changes to reduce punitive measures and to help increase the return rate. With new policies in place to incentivize participation in Libraries across the city, new and returning Library patrons will benefit from the recent expansion of branch locations and programs, including three new library branches co-located with CHA apartments that opened earlier this year, an expansion of teen YOUmedia learning labs to eight new locations across the city and the upcoming opening of Legler Branch, the first regional library branch located on the city’s West Side since the 1970s.

https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2019/september/EliminateLibraryLateFees.html