Books, Books, Books…And a CPSIA Update

This Saturday is one of the big annual cultural days in Washington, D.,C., the National Book Festival on the Mall. It’s an event sponsored by the Library of Congress but paid for by private sponsors. (AT&T, for example, supports the children’s events.)

There’s a long, long list of authors speaking. We’ll be trying to catch Mark Kurlansky, who has written the engaging, commodity-related history books, “Cod” and “Salt.” (Hoping he’ll do “Zinc” and “Sisal,” too.)

Here’s the official poster, which prominently displays familiar images from “Alice in Wonderland.” Hope it’s not a pre-1985 version, banned by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

More seriously, one of our goals of walking through the exhibits tomorrow is to see whether there’s any reference to the CPSIA’s outlawing of children’s books that could conceivably, possibly, potentially have minute but not-dangerous amounts of lead in their inks or other components.

Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com today catches us up on the book-related damage from the CPSIA, noting that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has yet to issue guidance for pre-1985 books. He quotes from a Publisher’s Weekly article:

Thom Barthelmess, president of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, says most librarians are waiting to see what happens. “We’re hoping for a happy resolution, so our collections aren’t decimated,” he says. If the CPSC’s ruling results in libraries needing to pull books from shelves, “there would be huge ramifications,” he continues. “If we lose a lot of titles printed before 1986, many of which are irreplaceable, it would have a huge impact on the nature of our collections.”

If we had to guess, it would be that few people — if anyone — participating in the National Book Festival will be familiar with the CPSIA’s book banning. Hope to be proved wrong.

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