ALA Urges Congress To Correct Law That Inadvertently Targets Libraries, Publishers

CPSC ruling requires children’s books to be removed for safety testing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — 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 and museum libraries to either remove all their books or ban all children under 12 from visiting the facilities, beginning on February 10.

The opinion was issued to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), following the group’s request to exclude children’s books from regulation under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which passed the 110th Congress in August and is enforced by the CPSC.

Under the CPSC’s interpretation of the law, which seeks to protect children from exposure to lead and phthalate, books for children under the age of 12 are required to undergo the same testing procedures as children’s toys. Since the General Counsel’s opinion is retroactive, all books currently on library or store shelves must be removed for testing, including textbooks and children’s literature books in academic library research collections.

The publishing community has supplied the Commission with evidentiary support (available at www.rrd.com/cpsia ) that books and other non-book, paper-based printed materials should not be subject to the lead, phthalate, and applicable ASTM standards that are referenced in CPSIA because they do not present any of the health or safety risks to children that the law intended to address.

ALA President Jim Rettig said he agrees that books do not pose a threat to children and should not be subject to regulation.

“The CPSC should enforce this important legislation where the dangers are — not with books, which are not playthings and should remain unregulated,” Rettig said.

“I sincerely doubt that Congress intended to require libraries to be subject to this law, but if Congress does not act soon, libraries across the country will be forced to remove books from the shelves, rather than keep them available to serve the educational needs of our nation’s children.”

The ALA’s letter to Congress can be viewed here.

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