Take The Kids to the Library (While You Still Can!)

Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009

It boggles the mind: here we are less than 2 weeks away from the February 10th implementation of the CPSIA, and libraries still don't know whether or not they will be able to continue serving children 12 and under. Common sense (and the interpretation of the ALA) concludes that children's books should not be subject to the testing requirements of the CPSIA.

Surely the folks who put together this legislation didn't intend to shut down children's libraries, right? Too bad they wrote the law in such a sweeping manner that it may do exactly that.

I've always been a fan of libraries. I'm a book lover, so it goes almost without saying! Now that I have kids, I am even more passionate about the public library system. Every time I go in with the kids and come out with an armload of books -- for free! -- I am filled with gratitude. (OK, except for that one time that BB ended up wrenching her elbow in the library parking lot because I was carrying too many books while trying to hold hands with both kids; driving to the ER with a wailing child, I have to say I wasn't feeling all that grateful for the public library system. But I digress.) The mere existence of our public libraries says something wonderful about our country and our culture. And their focus on kids and families is truly extraordinary: the children's areas in the local libraries are just lovely. It makes a mama proud.

And makes me furious to think that legislators would be careless enough to put all this in jeopardy. If they had been careful and thoughtful when they wrote the CPSIA in the first place, so much heartache could have been prevented (don't even get me started on the effects it might have on handmade goods or thrift stores!) but NO. Now it's up to the CPSC to deal with this mess.

Thankfully, librarians are a pretty tough crowd and have the organizational power to fight back. The ALA has been marshalling its forces, protesting the law through the official channels, and calling for congressional support. Just yesterday Congressman Chris Lee from New York called for a meeting with the CPSC to try to get this all taken care of.

But as of now, as far as I know, nothing has officially changed. The CPSC says they hope to have a ruling next week (golly, just a week before the law goes into effect!) and they are currently telling libraries to take a "wait and see" approach. But that ruling has not yet been made.

"Under the current opinion issued by the General Counsel of the CPSC, the law would apply to books for children under the age of 12; therefore, public, school, academic and museum libraries would be required to either remove all their children’s books or ban all children under 12 from visiting the facilities as of February 10." (Quoted from the ALA District Dispatch.)

So I'm taking the kids to the library while I still can -- and praying that the lobbying of the ALA will have enough of an effect (and soon enough) to avert this disaster. I just can't imagine having to explain to my kids that they aren't allowed to go to the library, aren't allowed to check out any more of their beloved books.

What can we do about this? Right now, the ALA suggests: Please call the Acting Commissioner, Nancy Nord, at (301) 504-7901. When you call this number, wait for the automated directory to give you directions to reach Nancy Nord’s office. Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children’s books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.

And while you're at it, you can tell her the law shouldn't apply to handmade goods, either!

Written by Jen of BFbeads & Mama's Magic Studio

International CPSIA Blog-In: Awareness & Action!

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In an effort to help bring awareness to the unintended effects of the CPSIA, bloggers from all over the world are uniting for an International Blog-In today. You can see a list of participating blogs here:
International CPSIA Blog-In Participants

If you have a blog of your own, we encourage you to join us today in sharing the the effects of this well-intentioned but poorly thought-out law. Two members of the EtsyKids Team, Holly of
Winklepots & Gretchen of Chichiboulie, put together the following post for people to use for the Blog-In. Everyone is welcome to post all of it, part of it, or just use it for inspiration:

"As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many peop
le in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too. How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all. Article from the American Library Association http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=1322

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist: Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper: Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123189645948879745.html

To the American Economy: Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.
If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/16/cpsia-safety-toys-oped-cx_wo_0116olson.html

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react."

Etsy recently put together a CPSIA Action Kit, which is packed full of information, and ways you can help. Please see this article:

CPSIA Action Kit and Community Chat

Stiff Competition for the Cardboard Box

Posted Sunday, January 11, 2009

During the long winter months when children are spending a lot more time indoors rather than out, parents around the world are looking for ways to keep their little ones occupied with something other than the television! As the mother of five children under the age of nine, I am constantly looking for toys that will spark my children's imagination, and will get used over and over again in a hundred different ways. I recently found some fellow EtsyKids team members who are providing children with beautifully crafted imaginative play accessories that will rival a large cardboard box in provide your children with hours of independent play.

birchleafdesigns, offers whimsical, natural wood and fabric playthings, like this wooden sword with leather sheath and strap, or wooden shield (right).

The mother/daughter team of worldofwhimm, specialize in beautifully crafted props meant to spark the imagination of kids and adults. The Indian Headdress and Royal Crown, pictured at left, are both from worldofwhimm.

There is something universal about a piece of fabric tied around the shoulders of a young child that instantly transforms boy or girl into an invincible superhero, a brave knight, or a royal prince or princess.

superflykidz expertly crafted "official" looking satin superhero capes (pictured right) complete with embroidered emblems offer little and big kids a versatile cape perfect for use in lots of different imaginary worlds. Masks are also available in a variety of colors, to preserve your little hero's identity as they soar through the kitchen.

babypop's Supreme Superhero Pack (pictured left) will provide die hard superhero's with just what they need ... a matching Tee, Cape, Gloves, and Mask, all in their favorite superheros colors ... to save the world everyday.

So if your little ones need a little help jump starting their imaginations this winter, look to these talented EtsyKids team members and their handmade accessories for some quality handmade help. You won't be disappointed!

* Written by TinyStitches.
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