Liquor Stores and Libraries

According to a recent study (research investigation), the closer teenagers (those ages 13 to 19) live to places where alcohol is sold, the more likely they are to binge drink. Binge drinking is when you drink excessively (too much) over a short period of time in order to get intoxicated (drunk) as quickly as possible.  Binge drinking is dangerous for many reasons, and has become more common in the U.S. in recent years among teenagers and college-age adults (ages 18-25). (We talked about this issue on English Cafe 167.)

The study found that living within a half-mile of a liquor store (a place that sells mostly alcohol in bottles and cans) significantly increases a teenager’s likelihood (chances; odds) of drinking too much and of driving while intoxicated.  If you can walk to the liquor store, you are more likely to use it.  (It is illegal for teens to purchase alcohol in the U.S., but that doesn’t prevent some stores from selling it to them.) We can think of the distance you live or have to travel to get something you want as being part of the “price” of that thing. If something takes a long time to get to, I may decide it is not worth the cost (of my time) to get it.  When you decrease the distance, you decrease the “price,” and the lower the price, the more likely someone is to buy something.

This basic principle (idea) of smaller distance –> lower price –> more consumption (more using or buying of something) works for all sorts of activities, and can often be a good thing.  If you live closer to your gym, you are more likely to go there to work out (exercise).  It is also true for the topic of this week’s English Cafe, public libraries. Several studies have found that the closer you live to a public library, the more likely you are to use it.  This is true for people at all levels of education, from college graduates to young children.

In fact, the magic number (important or significant number) seems to be about a half a mile (about .8 kilometers) for both libraries and liquor stores.  Kids who live more than half a mile from a library are much less likely to use it than those who are closer.

Although the advent (coming; arrival) of digital readers like the Kindle or the iPad may make the physical presence of libraries less important some day, distance still matters (is important). Back in my hometown (place where you were born) of St. Paul, Minnesota, I grew up only 1/3 of a mile from the nearest public library, and used it frequently.  I now live less than one-half a mile from my public library, and am there almost every week. If I had to travel 30 minutes to get the library, I may still go, but would probably go less often.

Do you have good public libraries where you live? Did you use them when you were growing up?


Photo credit: St. Paul Central Library, Appraiser CC

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26 Responses to Liquor Stores and Libraries

  1. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff
    If you don’t mind,
    I couldn’t hold my tongue any longer.
    Lucy your amazing or what?
    Your scripts are solid!
    Your scripts are sick(cool)!
    Your scripts rock!
    And above all they are slick
    I m reviewing them ,
    Sis ,they are mind blowing
    Thanks a million
    Your scrips have turned my life a perfect turn
    How have you been doing it three ,four times per week for more than 5 ,6 years is beyond me.
    Lucy, I admit it , you have a higher class of brain than me.
    That is for sure !
    Sorry Jeff,
    I was all worked up reviewing her scripts.
    Word can’t contain what she has been doing for both us and Eslpod.
    She is amazing!
    Canadian government just vested me the citizenship here ,but what truly turned me into a Canadian was not the government but Eslpod with all the culture and language talk.
    I got too emotional again

  2. emiliano says:

    Being a boy I had a public library less than 500 meters from home, so my sisters and me use to go there and read
    some nice books or comics very often.
    Now I could see that this proximity had a real good influence in our habit to read also to love books.

    Now there is not a public library close home, the one I use to go some time is more than 1 km. and a half /more or less
    a mile/ so it is not easy for me to go there.
    Just a pity because books in Spain are really expensive.
    Here, like in other European countries, books could not be sold with more of 5 % discount, it is not the same like in
    USA where you may buy a book in Amazon with more than 35 or 40 % of discount.
    Some times to me has been cheaper to ask for a book in Amazon N.Y. than to buy it in Madrid, having to pay the
    sending of the book.
    Just incredible but true.

    Now using the Kindle it is even cheaper, so good invent.
    I am really delighted with the electronic readers like kindle or IPad….(thank´s Steve Jobs)

    In the Kindle, or even better in the IPad, I could have also the ESL guides.
    Thank you again Jeff, Lucy and all ESL staff, beside the electronic readers.
    Of course, it is possible also to have the guides in all the Android devices.
    Bravo, for the new technology, when I started to study English I need
    the “short wave tune” to listen to the BBC by the radio and it sounded horrible.

    Thank you Dr. McQuillan a good topic as always it is. I love your way of

  3. Jaroslav says:


    first of all I would like to thank you for your great job. I do really enjoy reading this blog and listening to the podcast. To the topic: In my opinion it is true, I mean when I used to go to high school I didn’t go to the library that much. Probably it was just because the library wasn’t big enought and I didn’t find it very interesting. However, since I started going to college in a big city I do really enjoy going to the library. The library in Brno (that’s the place whre I live and study at the moment) is just brilliant. It has lots of to offer and it’s pretty close, too. You can find there almost every book you are interested in.

  4. Tania says:

    Hi! I have admired the clear and blue, blue water of Crater Lake on Wikipedia. Extraordinary place…the deepest lake in the U.S.

    Lake Baikal is the deepest in the world. Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest at 30 million years and deepest lake, located in the southern Russian region of Siberia.
    I remember of my Geography from school.

  5. Sunfishor says:

    Thanks, Jeff! I enjoy your podcast and blog!

    I like libraries and bookstores. I enjoy the feel of holding a paper book. But I am lazy too, I hope the library and the bookstore are within a 15 minutes walking distance.

  6. Peter says:

    There was this small local library in my neighbor hood,growing up. Frankly, I would never go there simply because there were enough materials to study at school. I can’t even be bothered to read another page.
    There is one question comes to mind, though
    What if there are both a close-by library and a liquor store say there is nearby plaza with both types in it.
    Which one is has the higher teem’s foot traffic :))

  7. John says:

    Your story made me smile. A couple of years ago, when I was like 24, I went to the supermarket and bought me a crate of beer. When I arrived at the checkout, the cashier asked me for my ID-card
    (it’s illegal to sell beer and wine to anyone under 16, and to buy liquor you have to be at least 18 years old, over here in Vienna). I was kinda flabbergasted and embarrassed, there was a long line behind me and I had the feeling that everyone had their eyes on me. Guess what – I didn’t have my ID-card or anything that could prove that I was already older than 18 with me!
    Luckily, my big brother was with me (he was in the line next to me, also with a crate of beer and other stuff) and he had his driving license with him – but his cashier didn’t ask him
    for his ID-card. I pointed at my brother and told the cashier that this was my brother. And since we had almost the same stuff in the shopping cart, and he looked like the older me with glasses, I guess that’s why the cashier just said “o.k.” That was so embarrassing!

    Back to your question: Yes, we do have good public libraries in Vienna – I just don’t go there anymore, because they’re not next to my door 😀
    I used to go there a lot when I was little. My two brothers and I would borrow at least 3 books and 1 comic every time we’d go there. I miss that time 🙁
    Now I’m much more into magazines and newspapers, though, every now and then I start reading a book (and never finish it :D)

    Hm, maybe I should start going to a library again – your article sounds tempting.

  8. sara says:

    Thanks Dear Jeff .it is really enjoyable to read your blogs.actually libraries always remind me of all the exams that I had to take in my life!

  9. Svetlana Malook says:

    Hello! Dear Jeff, thanks for you podcast and blog. It’s a really great job. I am from Ukraine and I have no way to communicate in English and develop my spoken language.
    Its very important project.

  10. Myo ko ko says:

    When I was in my University days, I had to live in a ranted apartment.
    When I stepped outside of the apartment to go to my class, it happened to me many times that I almost bumped into those liquor stores!
    Because they were side by side with our housing.
    But I rarely went to them. Maybe I did one or two or three times, but not now and then.
    According to your post, the “distance price” for me to get those stores would be two steps, three steps or so. 🙂
    (Jeff, if you were me at that time, I thought you would buy them a lot!) Just joking.

    I read in some books that there is one library in every neighborhood in U.S.
    Americans are fond of reading a lot. That explains enough, I think, why US is one of world’s “super powers” nowadays.
    I don’t need to look that far to accept that,
    Take Jeff and Lucy, for example.
    Their scripts and blog posts do cover almost everything or subjects.
    Right, Jeff? 🙂

  11. Hilario says:

    OVER BOTTLING.- Here in Spain, Public Libraries have decreased both in popularity and in general public attendance because of the extension of internet access mainly. The Spanish public network of libraries seem as well to be facing hard times in supporting costing and handling with their short budgets. I believe firmly in the power of well focused and on-purpose designed advertising campaigns and as it is the case in the U.S. with the ad-hoc campaign based on the geeky slogan that would be a working help. The Spanish libraries have been incorporating to their free access public-offer most of the new tech-gadgets and facilities for using all the IT advancements. But people don´t know about and the activity of attending them has become old fashion. The problem is that our administrations are nearly in broke and we lack very much down here of philanthropic people like Mr.Gates, giving money for the implementation of such a campaign. Our rich people here are well know for being quite miserable and tax evaders, so nobody can expect nothing but misery from them. On the other hand, there´s a huge unbalance in the number of libraries and liquor stores, or alcohol selling points. Chinese people arriving in Spain at a fairly great rate, for the last twenty years or so, have been taking over the old mom-and-pop business and reopening them into a kind of discount corner groceries, 7-11 type and storing almost of everything, and they have no reluctances to sell whatever alcoholic drink to whoever be the under-age customer at any hour. The teenagers collect the drinks and they gather themselves at a particular place of the town, summoned by their favour social network, called Twenty and celebrating their friday night “botellona” (Binge drinking), which consist of drinking as quick as possible, in a forming circle of friends with the drinking stuff in the middle.

  12. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,
    I couldn’t help but notice that on the blog you never mentioned anything about current man-made global warming.
    I know you want to keep the blog clean ,and that you don’t want to get Eslpod feet wet on the political world.
    But, to my best of knowledge , there are some good words that we ,your students could use .
    I didn’t mean to butt in Jeff
    I m just saying ,speaking for myself , I would be more that happy if you kindly throw some interesting terms my ways regarding the matter.
    Dear warren,
    You are very popular around Eslpod world for your simulating posts
    I m wondering why ,you have never dropped a line concerning the climate change.
    As you know there is a political statement regarding the matter.
    However,the point I m trying toile here. It would be nice of you if you guys consider posting sth here about it.
    U do this favor out of the kindness of your heart since There is no way i could make it worth your while.
    Compare to you guys ,I m a nobody ,a bum if you will:)

    See you when I see you 🙂
    Live long and prosper

  13. elcomandant says:

    A library is a great place to have a happy and peaceful time.

    Despite in the library there are many childhood books seldom you can see a child reading something.

    In my city there are several libraries and I can say that most of them, at least all I have visited are full of people. This people are mainly students, however there are many older people too, retired people, I guess , who went there to read daily all the newspapers for free. Well, it’s not a bad idea. Reading all newspapers you can find out the reality about politicians do. At least you can try it.


  14. Talal says:

    Hi guys, thx Dr ,Jeff for this article , i wanted to tell u guys that Kaddafi has been shot dead due to violent clashes between the rebels and Ghaddafis troops , we r celebrating out biggest national holiday today , its the independence day just like the 4th of July is the declaration of independence day for the US , i just wanted to share my happiness with u guys , especially Ms.Betty and Mr.Emilianao !!!!

    i cant simply describe my happiness right now , but today is a historical day for us ^^ yahoooooooooo !!!!

  15. Talal says:

    by the way, i would like to say thanks NATO for your wonderful work , without the NATO , our revolution would have been long dead !!!

  16. emiliano says:

    I only could desire you and to all the good people of Libya the best
    in future.
    It is really so bad that thousands or persons have died in order to
    get what every body needs, freedom and peace.
    Dictators think they are not ever going to die and prefer the death
    of thousands first to his own resign from the place or country they
    are ordering like emperors.
    Fort them life and freedom of their own people means nothing.

    Sometimes history puts tyrants in his/her rightful place.
    I think now it has been so.

    It would be good that some others take note of the Gaddafi´s final
    to be off and give a chance to the people of their own countries.

  17. Betty says:

    Hi Talal,

    I am happy because you are. I wish the change had come without sacrifices of so many people’s lives but sometimes things are not as simple as we ordinary people think.

    I would like to quote what was in the news today:

    “World leaders have said the death of Colonel Gaddafi opens a new chapter in the history of Libya.

    President Obama said four decades of the Gaddafi regime had come to an end.

    The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, warned the road ahead would be difficult.

    The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso urged Libya’s new leaders to reach out to all citizens and guarantee a democratic transition.

    The British Prime Minister David Cameron said today was the time to remember those who died at the hands of Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal regime.

    China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: “We hope that the transition to an inclusive political process will start as soon as possible, (so as to) safeguard ethnic unity and national unity, restore social stability and rebuild the economy, so that citizens can lead happy and peaceful lives”.”

    I would like to say my best wishes to you and all the people in Libya, you all deserve a good and peaceful life, so go for it, a good and peaceful life ahead of all of you.


  18. Talal says:

    Exactly Mr.Emiliano , i agree with every single word u have said !!! ,,, wow I am impressed , u know alot about Ghaddafi. !!!

  19. Tania says:

    Hi! I was born in a town. As pupil I lived in the country and attended my first school years in a country school.
    We had a list of books which had to read them for the literature class. So, we had to go and borrow them from the library especially on holidays.
    Yes, a library in the country…but with many good books, classic novels, canon novels. And all free of charge.
    But I have remembered that a student visited my parents on his holidays. He played chess with my father discussing on books with my mother.
    Haven’t you read this book? he said. Then I had to go to the library to find the mentioned books by him.
    Now, we have a good and large library in the town where I live but I don’t go frequently.
    With so many information on cable television, press, internet,…I sometimes feel it is too much for me.

    All the best to you all,


  20. Tania says:

    Hi! Kumbaya is catchy. Thank you.

  21. Talal says:

    thank u so much Ms,Betty for these kind words that i was waiting for ^^ , yeah u r right , the most challenging thing now is the democratic transition as u just have said, thank god that the biggest dictator of the 21 and 20th century is now dead , he has given to the world a bad impressions about Libyans. as u probably know , that he is the one who blew up the airplane in Lockerbie case, as a resultt , Libya was put into the blacklist of the terrorist countries , and we (the public) were going like ,” r u kidding me ? ” we dont approve of this , terrorism is our biggest enemy just like any other country out there , so he gave a bad impression about us , and killed roughly 40 000 people just during the revolution . not to mention the people he hung and tortured ,,, but 40 000 souls r way too much Ms.Betty , because they r humans , not animals , if fact , in Europe , u would find people raising up pets like dogs and cats ( like Emilianos cat ^^ ) and they hold sacred their lives , which is the right thing to do but , the 40 000 souls were human souls.
    well , at least now we can build up a new country where everyone is under the law, and i recommend that u watch CNN channel and follow up on these news Ms.Betty , dont take it for granted !!!
    in conclusion, i just want to say that keep in mind that if u have freedom and health and wealth , and sleeping at a comfortable bed at night with ur wife and kids safe, be sure that people at some part of the world r suffering from the lack-age of these things !!!!

    your friend : Talal

  22. Betty says:

    Yes, Talal, you are absolutely right.

    When you look at the world around you, there is always some disturbing news in every parts of the world.

    We, those who are lucky to be living in a peaceful world must remember that every day there are people in other parts of the world suffering from natural and human disaster.

    We, those who are breathing have to work hard every day to be a worthwhile human being.

    All the best wishes to you and your country


  23. Betty says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Jeff, for this interesting article which tells us the relationship between distances vs cost for the 2 “L” places – the liquor stores and the libraries.

    Being an educator, you stirred away from asking us about liquor stores.

    Although I would like to write something about liquor stores near home, I shall stick to your question which asked: “Do you have good public libraries where you live? Did you use them when you were growing up?.

    The answer is: “Yes we have very good public libraries where I live. I used them quite a lot when I was growing up”.

    The first time I visited a library was when I was about eleven years old. I was in the final year of my primary school and my school took all of the final year
    pupils to see Hong Kong’s then principle library which was situated in the Hong Kong City Hall.

    I visited it many times myself afterwards after I entered secondary education. I borrowed many famous story books which had been translated from English into Chinese. It was the first time I had an insight into social lives in the Western societies.

    This library has become less important since Hong Kong opened the doors to the public of a new library – The Central Library ten years ago.

    I think Hong Kong people are very lucky to have this new library which is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and digital library facilities. Because it is located right opposite one of the biggest and most used public park – the Victoria Park, it is more conveniently situated than the City Hall Library.

    The Leisure and Cultural Services Department of Hong Kong is responsible for Hong Kong’s Public Libraries. It states its aims in its website as: “to provide public library services to meet the community’s need for knowledge, information and research, to support life-long learning, continuous education and profitable use of leisure time, and to promote local literary arts”.

    We have “a network of 67 static libraries and 10 mobile libraries. They are evenly spread over the territory of Hong Kong and interconnected by an integrated automated library system to provide convenient access to a wide range of library services for people of all age groups and walks of life. The library collection has 12.47 million items, including books, audio-visual materials, newspapers, periodicals, CD-ROM databases, microforms and maps. Some of these library materials may be borrowed whilst others are for use in the libraries”.

    Finally, I would like to share with you something I noticed from the website. It says: “The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Manifesto proclaims the belief in the public library as a living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women”.

    Now we know why Jeff loves library so much. 🙂

    Thanks again, Jeff, I love libraries.

  24. emiliano says:

    Living in a peaceful country for the last 71 years as it has been Spain, after broken by a civil war, we Spaniards forget all the other
    dozens countries where peace and rights are absolutely out of them for decades.
    Yes, Talal, I remember perfectly well what you said about your country and the dictator who was the responsible of the Lockerbie
    attempt with the death of 270 persons and the reaction of the USA and other nations against your country and the dictator.

    But I could remember also the hypocrisy of the europeans politics and nations pampering the dictator because your country
    have oil and gas.
    Lot of europeans presidents gave a visit to the dictator and papered him like he could be a democratic ruler.
    Even some of them, like zapatero, aznar, and several others political leaders received gifts from the Libya ´s dictator and shared his Jaima
    being proud of sharing the luxurious tent with him.

    Yes, I feel ashamed by this kind of behavior, what is silly as it is the usual way of all the world´s politicians.
    A bloody dictator could be useful while he/her is fulling our pockets with oil, minerals, gas, or which ever other thing that is
    useful to Occident fabrics or citizens.

    Reading history you may see that always have been, and it is now, the same.
    Libya´s dictator ceased to be useful for occidental democracies and it was better to let their people finishing with him
    with our help, of course, because only with the country´s people forces it would be impossible.
    The end, good words and bla bla bla, of the occidental politicians.

    I hope your country and your people could construct a real peaceful land where life could be hopeful and safe
    when you go to bed with your wife and children, but please don´t trust the good intentions of occidental
    nations, all is and have been along centuries interest, goods, minerals, energy and supplies.

    All my best for you Talal.

  25. Betty says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Emiliano, for the new word “occidental”.

    I only know the word “accidental”, never knew the word occidental until now.

    “” explains it as: Western; and it suggests us to compare it to “oriental”.

    I have always known the word “oriental” because it appears in a lot of stories etc. Many Chinese and Far Eastern restaurants classify the meals they serve as “oriental meals”. That’s how I came to know the word “oriental”. But how come I don’t know any western restaurants call the food they serve as “occidental meals”?

    Very good history lesson you have given us above.

    Thanks again, and all the best.
    P.S. I accidentally found that you and Cuca were the stars in the podcast 553 on 5 February 2010-02-05 – A Homeowners’ Association. Interesting. 🙂

  26. emiliano says:

    Yes Betty, it was really very funny and it has a nice simple explanation
    as our dear teachers use some of their pupils names to make their

    There is another where Fátima and Emiliano appears, and the first
    time I listened to it I was laughing a lot.

    I think it is a very good and nice Lucy´s idea an to me it would be
    always a pleasure to being in the lessons at least only with my name.

    Have you any idea of coming to Madrid, Spain?
    Today I was talking about the Blog with my daughter Eva who has
    come from Islas Canarias to be with us and I told her about all the
    Blog´s friends and about a nice one who is living in Hong Kong.
    Eva was in Hongo Kong many years ago and she was amazed about
    your city.

    My best wishes Betty.

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