ALA: Consumer Product Safety Commission Still Dragging Its Feet On Book Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Library Association (ALA) today expressed dissatisfaction with a public meeting held by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to discuss the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and whether the law, which requires children’s products to undergo stringent testing for lead, should apply to ordinary, paper-based children’s books.

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.

During the meeting, members of a panel including representatives of the American Association of Publishers (AAP) as well as major book publishers and ink manufacturers, addressed questions raised by the CPSC rulemaking committee regarding the testing procedures and methodologies currently exercised in the production of an ordinary book.

The panel presented a collection of data reinforcing their position that ordinary books pose no inherent threat. This information can be viewed here. Though the CPSC acknowledged that the current deadlines are unrealistic and potentially damaging, the General Counsel gave no clear indication as to when an official ruling would be made and could offer no definite direction to libraries at this point.

“It is completely irresponsible and unacceptable for the CPSC to continue to leave this matter unresolved with the February 10th deadline drawing closer each day,” ALA President Jim Rettig said.

“It is apparent that the CPSC does not fully understand the ramifications this law will have for libraries — and for children — if libraries are not granted an exemption. At this point, we are advising libraries not to take drastic action, such as removing or destroying books, as we continue to hope this matter will be rectified and that the attention will be paid to the products that pose a true threat to children. However, we find it disappointing and shameful that a government agency would continue to leave this matter unsettled when clearly the outcome would virtually shut down our nation’s school and public libraries.”

About Jenni Terry

Jenni Terry was a press officer with the Washington Office.