June 30 2010 12:00 AM

Yes on CADL millage

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). 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 and a place for the family to get out and socialize. 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.

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.

Aug. 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. This millage covers nearly 90 percent of CADL’s operation. Without it, 13 CADL branches will close by Jan. 3, 2011.

The Capital Area District Library is an essential community resource, and one of the best values in the area. In 2009, more than 1.5 million visitors checked out 2.7 million items. My family conservatively estimates that we get $148 for every dollar of our property taxes that goes to support the library.

Even more, 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, they meet up with friends by accident or at special events. They sit and read, and read and read.

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

—Gavin Craig Lansing

Alkon’s gender role

My letter about Amy Alkon received two responses, both I feel missed the point. In her advice column last week, Alkon once again drove my point home. In a letter from a young woman whose dates were coercing her into allowing them to stay the night because they were "too drunk to drive home," the writer asked Alkon why so many of her male friends would immediately tell her that she never should have let him inside in the first place because it inevitably resulted in unwanted sexual advances, while her female friends hesitated. Alkon’s answer played into the stereotype of weak-willed women. Alkon advised her readers that this is because women have "evolved" to be the nurturing caretakers, the ones who don’t turn anyone away in time of need, even the men they just met who got too drunk on a first or second date and threaten to drive home while intoxicated if the delicate lady does not invite them inside. This is false. Gender roles are not evolutionary byproducts, but the result of generations of societal and media pressure. Women are the default caretakers because that is the role that has been forced on them throughout their lives. Walk into Toys’R’Us and you’ll understand what I mean. There is an entire section, presented entirely in pink, with a giant sign that reads "Cooking and Cleaning." There is no mistaking which gender these toys are targeting.

It is my opinion that Alkon’s tone and sense of humor would be enjoyable to read, if perhaps she could stop internalizing the sexism that she has likely faced in her own life as a woman. At some point, we must decide to stop playing along with misogynistic jokes and attitudes and say, "This is not how women should be regarded." It does not make us cold or humorless. It sends the message that we deserve respect, not a gender mold to cram ourselves into.

— Katelyn Dinkgrave Novi

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