Temple area big on reading

Poll: 86 percent of Temple residents read at least one book in 2022


The percentage of Americans who read at least one book a year jumped nearly 6 percent between 2014 and 2022, but almost half of all Americans haven’t read a paper or digital book in more than a year.

A national poll conducted by Test Prep Insight surveyed 1,621 American adults in an attempt to get a clear picture of current reading habits. Inspired by the Test Prep study, I launched a local poll on multiple social media sites, and the results were staggering.

While 48.5 percent of adults surveyed in the national poll said they did not read a single book in 2022, that number was only 14 percent in the Temple area.

Nationally, 51.5 percent said they read at least one book during 2022. That pales considerably to the 86 percent in the localpoll who accomplished that feat. 

OK, here’s where it gets really impressive: Of that 86 percent, 12 percent read one to 10 books during the year and 74 percent read at least 10 books. Some read more — people such as Temple’s De Conlin read a lot more.

“I read 114 books last year,” she said. “It was a mix of digital, audio and print.”

Amazing, but De isn’t Temple’s only mega-reader — Marda Keith read 100, Leesa Wilson read at least 75, Sara Harris Baker read 48, and Regina Corley and J. Dennis Smith each read 43.

While several readers use online outlets to rent digital books, many of those surveyed said quality public libraries in Temple and the surrounding area, plus libraries at Temple College, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and the Haines Medical Library at Baylor Scott & White, make books accessible.

“I read 22 books during 2022 and I checked them out from Temple Public Library,” said Key Dragoo. “They have a great selection. I always find what I want.”

Key isn’t the only local reader who utilizes the Temple Public Library. In 2022, well over a half-million books were checked out during 174,275 visits by local patrons, including 512,804 printed books and 14,788 digital publications. 

The total 2022 book count almost doubled check outs from the previous year. In 2021, 94,516 visitors checked out 267,951 printed books and 33,284 digital.

Conlin said she uses Temple Public Library’s CloudLibrary, which is a free service.

“I also have an Audible account for those books that are not on CloudLibrary,” she said. “I like audiobooks because I can listen to them during my commute to work and while I’m doing house work.”

To boost readership at the local level, Temple Public Library offers incentives and challenges for local bookworms.

“We have reading challenges for youth and adults,” said library director Natalie McAdams. “We have a Winter Reading Challenge for all ages, and a Fifty in 50 Reading Challenge that is just for adults.”

“The Fifty in 50 program encourages participants to read 50 books in 50 weeks from 50 categories,” McAdams said. “It includes categories such as ‘Books by Two Authors,’ ‘Books Set on a Beach’ and ‘Books with a Number in the Title.’ To join, visit the Service Desk on the library’s second floor or join online at temple.beanstack.org.”

Lisa Sullivan of Temple also is a frequent visitor to Temple Public Library.

“I average at least four books a month, so I’m there quite often,” she said. “Besides, my daughter works at the library and she keeps me stocked.”

“I read probably 50 a year, and that doesn’t count books I read at night to my mate,” she said. “He doesn’t see well, so every night at bedtime I read him a couple chapters from a book of his choosing.”

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