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Children's Books to be Banned - UPDATED

By Heather Idoni

Added Saturday, January 10, 2009

 

03/17/09 - The CPSC is instructing libraries to sequester/remove children's books -- few libraries are complying, but... THIS IS NUTS!

http://bookroomblog.com/2009/03/17/cpsc-demands-that-libraries-remove-books/

(Bookmark this page to check back for frequent updates.  Most recent updates are on top -- if you are new to the whole discussion, scroll down to read from the bottom up.)

3/09 - Jodi Whisler (of www.homegrownhearts.com) and I wrote some Dr. Seuss style stories you should enjoy if you've been following the news!

http://www.easyfunschool.com/the_CPSIA_meets_Dr_Seuss.html

http://www.easyfunschool.com/snopes_is_wrong_about_the_cpsia_spoof_seuss_story.html

2/18/2009 -- This article is great!  And it covers the current position of the American Library Association, too.

http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon0212wo.html

2/12/2009 -- Here is an EXCELLENT piece by Valerie Jacobsen:

http://bookroomblog.com/2009/02/11/irresponsible-senator-mccaskill/

UPDATE 2/10/2009 --

The CPSC has issued "guidance" that basically says we can sell only books printed after 1985... and anything before that date only as "collectible" and not intended for use with children.  Guess we'll be doing a whole lot more reading aloud to the kids!

http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/smbus/sbguide.pdf

I still don't know how the American Library Association is going to handle this!!  Here is their latest:

http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/governmentinfo/cpsia/cpsia.cfm

UPDATE 2/6/2009 --

  As the days count down in the ongoing tug-of-war, it is becoming
  apparent that the frequent CPSC "press releases" really have no
  bearing on the law.  And IF they do, then after 2/10 it will be
  completely illegal to sell children's book printed before 1985.

  Books printed before 1985 -- yes, you read that right.

  What will this mean for homeschooling families who cherish the
  hard-to-find older books and library discards?  It means that
  legally we are right back where we started and February 10th, as
  of now, is truly slated to be "National Book Burning" Day.

  ONE hope is to pass an amendment to the law by including it in the
  the economic stimulus package that is up for vote in Congress.
  The amendment, as drafted, would grant a 6 month reprieve and also
  exempt most items that are currently on shelves.  There would be
  NO retroactive effect on merchandise (including books) in existence
  before the law was passed.  But the EPA is putting up a huge fit.

  Read the links below and GOOD LUCK trying to decipher it all!

  http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09120.html

  http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toys6-2009feb06,0,4793143.story

UPDATE 1/27/2009 -- Official CPSC video of fact-finding meeting with book manufacturers, ink suppliers, etc. on the 'science' of book production and lead content:

http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/publishers.html

UPDATE 1/23/2009 -- Most recent news/links to read --

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6631645.html

http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=1573

http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/File/News/1.21.09_CPSIA_Letter_to_Henry_%20Waxman.pdf

UPDATE 1/19/2009 -- Here is a good article just published --

Click here:  Book Publishers Up in Arms Over CPSIA

UPDATE 1/17/2009 -- Congress Makes an Attempt to Save Books from Destruction

  Chairmen Henry A. Waxman and Bobby L. Rush, together with Senator
  John D. Rockefeller, incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce,
  Science and Transportation Committee, and Senator Mark L. Pryor,
  sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission expressing
  concerns about implementation of the Consumer Product Safety
  Improvement Act of 2008. The letter highlighted four issues of
  particular concern and urged the Commission to take swift action
  to address critical issues of implementation.  They ask for the
  exclusion of children's books from testing and also reiterate that
  NOTHING has changed to protect libraries and resellers from undue
  hardship in complying and destruction of books and other inventory,
  including clothing.  They ask for an exemption for 'ordinary' books
  and clothing that is made strictly of fabric.  Read the complete
  letter here:   http://familyclassroom.net/Congress.pdf

UPDATE: 1/16/2009 -- Here is an excellent article from Forbes.com that is really well done on the issue:

http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2009/01/16/cpsia-safety-toys-oped-cx_wo_0116olson.html

And here is evidence of the impact on the homeschooling community -- Apologia elementary science kits are being discontinued:

http://www.creationsensation.com/MuseumStore/kitsceased.htm

UPDATE: 1/14/2009 -- The Wall Street Journal just published an article for tomorrow's print edition:

Pelosi's Toy Story - "Under a new law set to go into effect February 10, unsold toys, along with bikes, books and even children's clothing are destined for the scrap heap due to an overzealous law to increase toy safety."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123189645948879745.html

And here is another good article:

http://www.tricities.com/tri/news/local/article/new_lead_law_has_some_sellers_fearing_for_survival/18684/

And if you REALLY want to get into the nitty-gritty of things (and you just plain enjoy reading) here is a good blog entry to read:

http://heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com/2009/01/cpsia-curioser-and-curioser.html

I'm still hoping that Snopes decides to change the "false" flag to "true".  Then maybe I will stop getting emails with the link to Snopes.com.

UPDATE: 1/13/2009 -- I am VINDICATED!  Snopes.com has removed my article (at least) from the page where they were calling the claims about book confusion (and thrift store requirements) false.

UPDATE: 1/12/2009 -- Do not believe everything you read on Snopes.com.  Their editors are only human!  This is a real issue, not a hoax.

Here is what the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops has to say in their FAQs about CPSIA:

"Is it true that the CPSC Press Release issued on January 8 solved this problem for resale & thrift shops?

NO... NO... NO... The law remains UNALTERED!  Please read it VERY CAREFULLY!  This is NOT a ruling, exemption or exception to the CPSIA... it is a Press Release. It is NOT definitive!  It is a step in the right direction toward open communication, however nothing has changed. We have ALWAYS fully understood that manufacturers are required to test for lead, not resellers, but how is a store to know definitively if a product violates the lead requirements unless it tests. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties..."

Read the entire statement HERE.

UPDATE: 1/10/2009 -- I don't know if I should feel honored or mortified -- but my article (below) is now on Snopes.com next to the word "false".

Well, they could have mentioned that it WAS true when I wrote it and mailed out the newsletter on Wednesday night!  Hardly urban legend fare.

POTENTIAL GOOD NEWS:  A press release was issued Thursday which attempts to "clarify" the law, but it is still quite confusing.

Due to the public outcry that had been building for several days after the EPA defined "toys" as "any children's product" (which included books and clothing), they issued an amendment-style "clarification" that USED items (such as those sold at resale shops like Goodwill, etc.) would not now be affected.  Secondhand stores may now be safe from some of the regulations -- the ones that would have required needless destruction of inventory -- but the wording is such that they are still responsible to know that they are selling safe items, or be willing to face stiff fines and/or inprisonment.  (What???)

It is clearly still a nightmare for NEW items, including books.

Here is an article about that:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6627969.html

Just to show I wasn't the only one declaring doomsday, here is the World Net Daily article published BEFORE the supposed "clarification":

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=85542

And the one WND published AFTER the change in wording:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=85638

The CPSIA regulations are still quite a mess for countless small to medium sized businesses, especially those who manufacture and/or sell handcrafted toys, clothing and other children's products.  There will be a huge economic impact.  But at least library collections and out-of-print rare books *might* be safer at this point.  According to the original CPSIA rulings and EPA interpretations they were destined for destruction at the time I published the original article.

I appreciate everyone who wrote to me about this issue and those who shared the information with others.  I am reminded of the story of Horton Hears a Who -- when the villagers did everything they could to make enough noise to be heard.  The handcrafted community has been yelping for several weeks now -- I think our giant YELP on Thursday helped push things over the edge for all of us!  Members of Congress heard from a disproportionately LARGE voice and things really began to happen.

I've been accused by some of sensationalism and drama, but everything I wrote was true.  The impact of the law (as written) is to make illegal the distribution of ALL books printed prior to the law, which were not accompanied by lead-free certificates.  That is 100% of all the books in my store, the local library and your home.  I maintain that using the word "all" in that sense was not being over-dramatic, and I cannot apologize for doing so.

If you happen to be one of those who thinks I exaggerated the issue, take a look at this article quoting the associate executive director the American Library Association:

http://thephoenix.com/Boston/News/74940-Congress-bans-kids-from-libraries/

I know the whole scenario was/is hard to believe, but what if we all chose to do nothing, believing that crazy things like this can't happen in America?  I don't doubt for a minute that NOTHING would have changed had we been quiet.

Changes and modifications are still taking place. The thrift store issue was clarified (although they are still subject to penalties, at least they don't have to do initial testing.)

But booksellers and libraries are still up in the air on how to proceed.

The bottom line is the law as written is STILL vague and confusing.

Sincerely,
Heather Idoni
(who will think twice before trusting Snopes above all in the future!)

---

(Click HERE for the newsletter issue published on 1/8 that contained the original article I wrote before the amendment/clarification above.)

 





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