CPSC Update: Libraries Bid Farewell to Pre-1985 Books

From the American Library Association, an Aug. 27 “dispatch” on how librarians should treat the children’s books that might contain minute traces of lead.

On August 26, 2009, the CPSC’s final rule on children’s products containing lead was released. [Final rule here.] In the rule, CPSC confirmed that libraries have no independent obligation to test library books for lead under the law. CPSC also announced its intention to release a Statement of Policy specifically providing guidance for libraries with regard to the treatment of older children’s books that could potentially contain lead. According to our conversations with CPSC officials, that Statement of Policy should be released within the next several weeks.

While we await the Statement of Policy, ALA recommends that libraries take the following actions. If a library is aware that any children’s book does indeed contain lead above the legal limits or otherwise presents a danger to children, it should remove it from public access, for instance by moving it to the non-circulating collection. We would also ask that if libraries do learn of any books containing lead to please let the ALA – Washington Office know so that we might share that information with other libraries. When the Statement of Policy is released, we will promptly notify our members.

Independent obligation or not — and what does that mean? — don’t libraries have to assume that pre-1985 children’s books are printed with lead-bearing ink? No, the books pose no danger to children, but the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act outlaws children’s products that could conceivably permit the absorption of ANY lead. In effect, it’s an absolute ban.

The American Library Association has been awfully passive in its response to the CPSIA’s excesses. You would expect an association that sponsors an annual Banned Books Week to rise up in righteous anger against a law that, you know, bans books.

(Hat tip: The Recliner Commentaries.)

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