Did Umbridge Take Over?

Feb 15, 2009

Posted by Doris

Umbridge Excuse me for, well thinking, but since when did we (as a society) allow our government officials the ability to limit a child’s right to use a library? Certainly not here, not in the United States of America.

from the ALA …..

The American Library Association (ALA) released a letter to Congress
yesterday, urging members to take action against a recent opinion
ruling released from the General Counsel of the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) that would require public, school, academic an
museum libraries to either remove all their books or ban all children
under 12 from visiting the facilities, beginning on February 10.

The complete article can be found here.

Now, the premise here is that kids might put these books in their mouths and the books might have lead based products on them. Since books are not considered toys they are not regulated and the books could be contaminated.

While I know that babies put everything in their mouths, is this really the right thing to do? Can’t we just trust the smallest children’s parents to watch over them? Most older children have stopped the “oral fixation” stage before elementary school, and even if they’ve not stopped it, can’t we trust them to keep the books out of their mouths?

Of course my thought now is, can lead be found in the books my children read?

Here’s the real truth. CPSIA’s overview of the book assembly process. A snippet of the summary of the text…

style=”text-align: center; font-family: Times New Roman;”>Upon quick review, the reader will note that the lead levels documented
for each book component in these attachments are significantly below
even the 100ppm level established by the CPSC for compliance three
years from this date. Additionally, the results from Phthalate testing
among the various book components are “not detectable” and statements
from suppliers confirm that phthalates are not used in the
manufacturing process of the book components.

From the great Winston Churchill …

“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the
bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet
in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are
afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring
at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These
terrify them. A little mouse – a little tiny mouse! – of thought
appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown
into panic.”

style=”text-align: center; “>
Winston Churchill

If you live in the United States, please send OWLS to your legislature asking them to do something about this. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I’ll keep checking and update this post with any news on this topic.


Edited to Add:
You’ll find the CSPC’s report here. This is a pdf file, so you’ll have to download it to read it. The section you are looking for is TITLE I”CHILDREN’S PRODUCT SAFETY : SEC. 101. CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS CONTAINING LEAD; LEAD PAINT RULE.
15 USC 1278a.

Edited to Add Again: (2/16)

Thanks so much for the emails, I’ve loved hearing from you guys. I’m also aware that our comment function isn’t allowing you to read comments on page two of the blog comments. I’ve let Alex know and hopefully it will be back to working soon. I can read your comments in our admin section.

I also randomly tested books today, no lead to be found. I spoke to several librarians about this issue and my state and national representatives.

The Harry Potter Alliance also posted on this topic today. (You can see their post here) Thanks Andrew for posting about this and for just being the awesome person that you are.

Edited to Add: (2/17)

You can contact the CPSC here. Please email them and ask them to make an exception to the lead ban for books and textbooks.

30 Responses to Did Umbridge Take Over?

Avatar Imagejalawood says: What the @/%$>? That is so wrong! No one should be banned from reading! That goes against everything I stand for! **silently fumes**Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: Olivia, I'm not sure what's more shocking to me. That this happened at all, or that there is not more media coverage. Glad to hear I'm not the only one fuming.Avatar Imagerhadamenthes says: I just about fell off my broom when I read this! Government is trying to regulate everything and it's wrong. Banning kids under 12 from the library? It's hard enough to get kids to sit down and read a book instead of picking up a game controller or TV remote. This would give them yet 1 more excuse not to read. Our education system is severly broken. We have kids everyday dropping out of high school or graduating high school who still can't read. I think the ALA needs to get their priorities in order and encourage kids to come to the library and read. Accio Doctor Seuss!!Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: rhadamenthes, The ALA is trying to get this fixed. (I've linked to their complete letter in my post) The Consumer Product Safety Commission, is the government organization trying to keep children under 12 from use of books in a public library. The ALA is very pro-active in the academic freedom movement. I tell people that if you value your freedom of speech, kiss a librarian. I'm glad to see so many people so passionate about this. I've already received copies of owls sent to a few congressional leaders.Avatar ImageMGD5981 says: I've been reading since I was 3, I have never eaten a book in my life, much less got lead poisoning from one. This is just another way that the government is trying to raise a kid instead of letting the parents. I know it takes a village to raise a child, but when the village sets up all the rules then the parents hands are tied. This is just wrong.Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: MGD5981 - I completely agree with you. I've added a link to the actual ruling for you guys to download and read yourself if you'd like.Avatar ImageLillylove says: Doris, Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I had not heard a thing about this! It certainly does smack of Umbridge. It is so frustrating & amazing to me that a country as "advanced" as ours seems so often to instigate laws that are REactive rather than PROactive. Can our government officials not sit back & see how absolutely ludicrous this position is? The sad thing is, they obviously don't. I will be relaying this info on to others so that we can rally behind the cause. Avatar Imagelpikaard says: This is absurd! The libraries in America have been suffering from lack of use but over the past few years (thanks in large part to Jo Rowling) reading has increased, especially with the young readers. To ban them from libraries is to curse this country. Awareness is key! This needs to be blown up so everyone can know about it asap!Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: Thanks guys - Call your congressmen, and if you CC me I might add some of your emails in here (removing your name of course) but I'm serious that we need to not let this happen. We can assure our children's safety without banning them from libraries.Avatar Imageravenpuffq says: I cannot believe this! To ban children under the age of twelve from libraries is completely absurd! While there are certainly many children that don't behave very well in libraries, they're far more likely to just yell and disturb the peace than they are to start chomping on a copy of Sorcerer's Stone. While libraries are a source of books for many people, what about bookstores? Are there soon going to be bouncers that card kids when all they want to do is buy a book? There are enough children that will probably never read a book for pleasure as long as they live without the help of this ruling. Down with Umbridge!Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: ravenpuffq you bring up a good point, kids who can't afford books will be hurt the most.Avatar Imagewordsaremagic says: The plain truth is, we are losing the war on stupid! Abraham Lincoln once said that as a nation of free men we must live for all time, or die by suicide. Obviously we have chosen the latter.Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: "We are losing the war on stupid" I want that on a t-shirt! We have chosen the latter, but choosing to allow things like this to slip by us. We have to do something about it. Thanks -Avatar Imagewordsaremagic says: t-shirts? Cool idea! hats, pins, banners, road side billboards... I liked this line in your post: "Since books are not considered toys they are not regulated and the books could be contaminated." Books really are contaminated--they are full of dangerous ideas (and I am not really joking about that--many really are full of dangerous ideas). And, when we read deeply and critically, we are in a very real sense EATING those books. But is the cure for bad thinking a curriculum of not thinking? That strikes me as being similar to the old idea that we should lower a sick person's temperature by bleeding him. It actually works. Take enough blood and the body's temperature will lower to room temperature (product warning label: "should death occur, discontinue use; if symptoms persist, consult a physician"). You also wrote: "Can't we just trust the smallest children's parents to watch over them?" In our current Nanny State, apparently we cannot trust the parents to watch over themselves, much less their children. I once bought a camping lantern, one of the kind that has a fabric "mantle" you attach to the gas output. It had a label, "Do Not Eat." I have seen similar labels on things like batteries. Steak knives need to have a label--warning, sharp; serious injury may occur if you eat this product. I say, let's require a label on on televisions: warning, use of this device may distort your perception of reality. And compared to lanterns, batteries, knives, and televisions, books are FAR more dangerous. Hitler knew that. Every book burner in history has know that. "“. . . As every totalitarian regime knows, the ability to think is a contagious disease.”-----Stanislaw Baranczak Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: wordsaremagic - You totally rock! I tell kids all the time, they need to devour their books. Warning kiddos, I did not mean literally. This seems to me like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch, but it's really happening. New label for books: Warning: Reading this will increase your enjoyment for life, help you learn to think critically, may help you earn more money but if you eat it, well you might get a tummy ache. On second thought, we'll just keep this away from you - you don't know what's best for you and we have to protect you from yourself. I'm turning into a cynic! Avatar Imagewordsaremagic says: I love your label: "New label for books: Warning: Reading this will increase your enjoyment for life..." It reminds me of something from John Ruskin: " The entire object of education is not to make people merely DO the right things, but ENJOY the right things..." I would say that is the greatest thing I gained from my college education--not the teaching job I do (which I love beyond rational explanation)--but the JOY I have gained in things like art, music, literature, theater, architecture, history, philosophy, theology... It is a long list. But keep let's up the war. Lose or not, we have no choice. As Bob Dylan once wrote, I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinking--'cause it's hard rain's a-gonna fall. No, you are not turning into a cynic; you are turning into a Stoic, one who knows the right thing is the right thing, win or lose, pain or pleasure. Keep blogging. Keep pounding us on the value of education. I look forward to you next entry.Avatar ImageTitaPizarro says: That is just WRONG. Remove books or ban kids under 12? How about my cousin who is about to enter middle school? Does that mean that his school won't have a library or he won't be able to go into it (since he'll be 11 in 6th grade)? Avatar ImageCassia Lenoir says: This is so absurd I had to read it twice to comprehend such stupidity! If someone had banned me from going to the library 'till I was twelve, where the heck would I have spent all my wednesday afternoon, in front of the TV? Yay, I can see the improvement! To have the baby books tested (you know the books for 2/4years old with funny images and stuff...) is smart, what they are doing is pure stupidity! Children would be more interested in trying to eat their gameboy or whatever, it's all shiny and beautiful...might want to ban those. Oh and school books too... I mean they would be really dangerous for a child, he might actually learn something! Dictionnary are even worse! -_-' Hope they don't try anything like this in France!Avatar Imageforthejokes says: Wow, that is one of the most ridiculous things I've seen. Living in Australia, there doesn't seem to be this kind of conservatism. Banning books doesn't really happen either. Children under 12? I think that by the time a child has reached the age of 6 or 7 (at least I hope), or even earlier, they would probably have already stopped trying to put everything in their mouths, as you stated.Avatar ImageChrissyPuff says: I am just hearing about this today. This is crazy. Have we all gone nuts. At first i thought that they were worried about young children reading books - that it might be "dangerous" because of all the "crazy" ideas they put in our heads. But no, they are worried about youngsters putting lead books in their mouths. Seriously? Are parents that bad now? That they cant watch their kids enough to make sure they wont put them in their mouths? And is there even enough lead paint in the books to make them sick? Wouldnt they have to eat the whole thing or something? Someone clearly hasnt thought this whole scenario through. Craziness... absolute craziness.Avatar Imagemhaeyemhaeye says: What? Seriously! I never heard anything more absurd than banning people to read. Reading is life. This is upsetting. :(Avatar ImageFlittwick says: What on earth is this person thinking of ??? "education of the masses" is a universal right ! This stinks of some-one who wishes to deny us access to Avatar ImageFlittwick says: Ridiculous ! as a junior librarian in my time this is essential for childerens education How dare this person ban access to education !Avatar ImageSlytherinPrincess007 says: That is so stupid. We should encourage reading not the opposite. Avatar Imagex_Potter_Lover_Forever_x says: How sad, this is so stupid I been reading books from my local library since . . . . well forever! Avatar ImageIsabell says: This is ludicrous! I thought we in Sweden had some daft rules and regulations, but sadly we're not alone on that point. I sincerely hope that this does not go through! What's next - a ban on breathing due to the risks from air pollution?Avatar ImageCalynthe says: How is this possible? I just don't understand how ANYONE could have this stance. Why haven't I heard about this before? This should be breaking news, front page of every newspaper everywhere! This is ridiculous. Are people really this thick? Goodness gracious, these guys should win the Idiot of the Year award...Avatar ImageRavenclaw_Runner92 says: Last year in school we read Fahrenheit 451, which in case people have not read it, is a book about the future where books are burned! Then the ironic part was we later in class looked at a list of the most popular banned books, and Fahrenheit 451 (of course Harry Potter is on it too!) was on it. So a book about the importance of reading and not destroying books is a banned book. People are always so worried about keeping kids "safe" and sheltering them that they don't allow kids to actaully live and learn things for themsleves. The government has to stop acting like the parent because when they do, they end up doing more harm than good.Avatar ImageBlast-Ended_Scrute says: here here! this must not stand!Avatar Imagehmm says: Fahrenheit 451

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