January 22, 2009

Library Protest idea for CPSIA

I know this is not design related. This is a copy of a letter sent to the executive director of the American Library Association. I am posting this here instead of the state library blog because this is my own idea. Please feel free to copy this letter and send it to your local library or to write your own version to Keith Fiels.

Contact info for Keith Fiels:

Keith Michael Fiels
ALA Executive Director
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Responsibilities: Overall management of ALA
E-mail: kfiels@ala.org

800.545.2433, ext. 1392
Fax: 312.280.5014

Dear Keith Michael Fiels,

I am a part-time librarian in the Soda Springs Public Library. I have been following the CPSIA and libraries for the last three months. I would like to thank you for your work in the ALA, especially with your lobbying efforts in regards to the CPSIA. I understand that the ALA has taken a "wait and see" position because of the fluid nature of the implementation of the CPSIA. I know that your lobbyists and lawyers are probably working overtime on the issue.

Due to the current transition in Washington DC and the refusal of action by the CPSC and the congressional representatives who authored the CPSIA, it has become clear that action is needed to further intensify the pressure for clarification. It is unlikely that any clarification or exemption will be forthcoming prior to February 10, 2009. This means libraries will be scofflaws on that day, operating in violation of the law. I would like to recommend a course of action that libraries can take on February 10, 2009 that will result in increased public awareness and pressure. I believe that by encouraging action by libraries across the country, we can create enough public pressure to bring about change. Once the public realizes that child library areas will be forced to shut down and/or children will not be allowed into the library, I believe the public will rise in protest.

This protest can be very simply executed on February 10, 2009:

1. Clear several shelves of books into boxes marked banned hazardous substances.
2. String crime scene tape to prevent access to the children's area.
3. Do not check out any child related library material on that day.
4. Distribute fliers to patrons with congressional contact information.
5. Invite local media.

These actions should garner the public pressure and awareness that is needed to bring about change.

Esther Melander
Soda Springs, ID


  1. Esther, what is the latest developments in re: to CPSIA and children's library books? I know the 1985 date has been thrown around. Are libraries still waiting for a complete exemption?

    tandclundell (at) mac (dot) com

  2. Right now the ALA believes the law applies only to books and not libraries. Kind of an awkward position to take since libraries warehouse and distribute books (sometimes for money). No librarian in their right mind would throw books out. The call to action is to call congressional reps but it isn't getting the attention it deserves.