Sunday, July 11, 2010

The library is worth supporting

(An edited version of this letter was run in the June 30 edition of Lansing City Pulse)

In 2005, my wife and I moved back to the Lansing area after an unsuccessful year looking for work in Detroit and the east coast. We knew the area well from our time at Michigan State University, but we were coming back without much of a support system. Our closest family was in Detroit (my father lives in Chicago, and my wife’s parents in New Jersey), and nearly all of our friends had moved out of the area (and the state) after graduation. Our daughter was a little more than a year old at the time, and we were expecting our second.

We were living on a single income, and needed entertainment and educational resources for a stay-at-home-mother to use, as well as a place for the family to get out of the house and meet other families. We found all of this in the Capital Area District Library’s Foster branch, which had a great collection of kids’ books and music, and a weekly story hour. It was nothing less than a lifesaver.

Our children are older now, and my wife and I are both working full-time, but the library is still a big part of our lives. Our daughters check out more chapter books than picture books these days (Cynthia Rylant is a particular favorite), but Sesame Street CDs are still popular, and audiobooks still keep us all happy, healthy, and sane on the long drives to visit grandparents in Chicago, New Jersey, and Tennessee.

On Tuesday, August 3, voters will be asked to renew the millage that supports the Capital Area District Library. Even with increased operation costs and record levels of library use, CADL has not requested additional funds, but only a renewal of the millage which expired on December 31, 2009. This millage covers nearly 90% of CADL’s operation and maintenance costs, and without this funding, the 13 CADL branches will close on Jan. 3, 2011.

The Capital Area District Library is an essential community resource, and one of the best values in the area. In 2009 alone more than 1.5 million visitors checked out 2.7 million items (and logged more than 284,000 hours on the internet using CADL computers). My own family conservatively estimates that we get $148 of use for every dollar of our property taxes that goes to support the library.

Perhaps even more importantly, my daughters get excited when it’s time to go to the library. They love to return books on the conveyor belt in the downtown branch, and the toy trains can’t compete anymore with shelves and shelves of books they haven’t read yet. They meet up with friends by accident or at special events. They sit and read, and read, and read. (Okay, the younger one looks at the pictures and makes up her own story, but it’s a good start.)

This summer, they each got their own library cards, and they treat them as the most valuable things in their purses (which they are).

Please vote to renew CADL’s millage on August 3. The library is a treasure. Let’s keep it around.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The best of Wordwright

Wordwright has been around for more than five years now, and it seemed an opportune time to collect some of the keepers. Thus here, in reverse chronological order, are 16 posts that hold up well, offer interesting markers, or are simply the first places I would point someone digging through my archive.

Hopefully it's a fun and interesting grab bag. Thanks for reading, and I hope to have even better in the future.

Thursday, April 15, 2010: There are only three meaningful places to cut federal spending

Monday, November 16, 2009: Theses on journalism: an experiment in format

Thursday, January 22, 2009: First poem (A reading of Elizabeth Alexander’s poem written for the Obama inauguration)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009: Identification and participation (Thoughts on the community function of newspapers)

Monday, August 25, 2008: Ones and zeroes (DVD as the digital novel)

Thursday, August 21, 2008: Trying to get published: minefield or quicksand?

Friday, August 08, 2008: Kwame Kilpatrick: the cliffs notes (This may need an update, but the thought of writing one is more than a little depressing)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008: What makes the Bat?

Friday, July 11, 2008: I'm not wrong, just not as insightful as I'd often like to be (Obama vs. Clinton)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008: Nearly everyone talking about this is an idiot (Yale art student Aliza Shvarts)

Monday, April 07, 2008: i is for improvisation

Monday, March 12, 2007: My old friend (On Jack Kerouac’s 85th birthday)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005: Promo CD problems

Monday, November 07, 2005: Ain't fake politics fun? (On The West Wing’s live debate episode)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005: The story of O. (Where I claim, well ahead of the pack, my belief that James Frey’s memoir was a fraud.)

Saturday, October 02, 2004: Musing on Hitchens (and Miller, apparently)

Notable omissions: nothing on the aftermath of the 2009 elections in Iran made the cut (there are some good links archived there, but my own writing on the topic just wasn't substantial enough), nor did any posts on copyright law (too dry), nor my recent writing for the now-defunct Ditching Otis (too recent).