Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local bookstores and educational capital

I just wrote a post on my personal blog about the sad closing of Shaman Drum, one of the best independent bookstores in the Midwest.

Social scientists use the term "social capital" to describe the strength of social networks in a community. Likewise, we can use the term "educational capital" to describe the educational environment in a community. Strong schools and libraries, a vibrant local arts scene, high-quality local publications, the presence of a college or university - all of these can increase a community's educational capital.

When an excellent bookstore goes out of business, the educational environment of its community is diminished. Just as communities concerned about education issues should approve millages and tax increases to support their local schools, they should also patronize the stores, theaters, museums, and concert halls that contribute to the community's educational capital in important but less obvious ways.