For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January 28, 2009
OFFICE OF U.S. Rep. Chris Lee (NY-26)
Contact: Andrea Bozek/Mike Ricci
202-225-5265 (office)/716-598-4500 (cell)
WASHINGTON — Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to clarify whether libraries will soon face the prospect of destroying children’s books in order to comply with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
To date, the Commission has stated that any product designed for children under the age of 12, including books, would have to be tested for lead — even though it is well-known that book components have all been previously tested and found to demonstrate no threat of lead exposure. Under the commission’s interpretation, libraries could end up having to either test all their children’s books or discard their collections come February 10.
“It is unfortunate that less than two weeks before the new law is set to effect, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has still failed to clarify whether libraries will be exempt from these burdensome requirements,” Congressman Lee said. “While I support any and all efforts to protect our children from harmful chemicals, this is an instance in which good policy has wrongly taken a backseat to good intentions.”
Congressman Lee first contacted the Commission about this issue on January 9, when he discussed it with the Commission’s acting chairman, Nancy A. Nord. That conversation followed up on a request Congressman Lee made to ensure consignment or thrift stores would be exempt from the same burdensome requirements that the libraries are now confronting.
“Librarians are very concerned about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System. “We do not have enough information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to adequately prepare to comply with these new regulations. Testing all of our children’s books would render public libraries virtually useless for children and their families for months, years and in some cases permanently. It would be costly and disruptive at a time when we are seeing shrinking funding and dramatic increases in the number of people using libraries and checking out books. These measures threaten the very existence of public libraries. We sincerely appreciate the efforts of Congressman Lee to address this important issue.”
Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of the American Library Association, added: “Books are safe and the government shouldn’t be wasting its precious resources scaring parents away from encouraging their children to read. The CPSC should focus on toys and let libraries get on with the important work of teaching children to love reading.”