Protesting CPSIA – an activists’ guide for bookstores and libraries

While some parents might relish saying bye-bye to Elmo, recent legislation is causing parents to have to say bye-bye to affordable childrens books and classic favorites.

While some parents might relish saying bye-bye to Elmo, recent legislation is causing parents to have to say bye-bye to affordable childrens' books and classic favorites.

As people are beginning to realize, the recent passage of CPSIA has deep ramifications for education and literacy, reducing access to books in stores, libraries and charities.  Hardest hit are the economically disadvantaged children among us.  Here are some ideas to help get started in protesting and raising support for the repeal of this disastrous bill.

  1. Libraries and book stores: outrage your patrons and customers.  You know those shelves left empty when you were forced to pull all those childrens’ classics?  Resist the temptation to refill them with shiny, new, “safe” books.  Leave them empty.  In fact cross them with orange caution tape.  Add a note telling people that due to government legislation,  their children can’t have those books.  Leave a stack of 3×5 action cards for them, explaining the unfortunate effects of the bill and giving them information for contacting their representative, etc.
  2. Libraries and book stores: Or, leave them full – so patrons and customers can see all the books they can’t have, and cross them with tape.
  3. Book stores: Hold a black market sale on childrens’ books to raise awareness and funds for your local library (they’re gonna need them to replace all those books).  Rules are simple.  You buy the book (and all proceeds go to the library).  You don’t get the book.  Absurd, you say?  Exactly.
  4. Library patrons: Here’s one suggestion I got off the Twitter-wire via @raymondpirouz:  start a guerrilla style campaign.  Grab said stack of 3×5 cards and march out to your local library.  Make sure you’ve written “This book is illegal” in big scary letters on the front.  A skull and crossbones would be a nice touch.  Put relevant calls to action on the back.  Slip a card into every childrens’ book you can find that was printed before 1986.
  5. Online booksellers: Upload all of your childrens’ books everywhere you list with your descriptions changed to something to this effect: “Not for sale. Due to recent legislation, the U.S. government has determined that this item is illegal, and cannot be made available to children.  Contact your U.S. representative for more information.”  I don’t know how other marketplaces will support this, but I can promise you that Biblio will back you 100% – in fact, if we get enough booksellers protesting this way, maybe we could put together a whole dedicated section to all of the childrens’ books that we’re not going to sell you.
  6. Everyone: petition your representative to amend or repeal CPSIA.

There is a chance to have this law changed, and some very strong grassroots support underway.  But, there is also opposition – mostly brought on by alarmist news media playing the are-you-really-sure-the-hot-dog-from-the-ballpark-is-safe game.   As you know, though, powerful grassroots movements have to start with ordinary, concerned citizens and small businesses and organizations, not with 40 point headlines in the mass media.  Please add your own ideas and play a part (however small) in raising awareness and preventing this legislation from snapping shut the covers on the educational opportunities of children everywhere.

4 thoughts on “Protesting CPSIA – an activists’ guide for bookstores and libraries”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.