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Update on Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

A public meeting was held today with Kristina Hatlelid, Directorate for Health Sciences, and other Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff to allow Allan Robert Adler, of the Association of American Publishers, and major publishing companies to discuss the lead content of books.  The meeting was a time for the publishing companies to explain their research to the CPSC staff that proves that normal books (non-play, paper books) do not contain lead in the amount specified under the CPSIA.  The publishing companies have compiled a group of 300 test results that can be viewed here.

After the meeting, Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel for the CPSC, stated that a decision should be made by the first week of February.  She advised libraries not to take any action at this time, and we are hopeful that the Commission’s decision will exempt libraries.

Even with her assurances, we must let the CPSC know how important an issue this is to libraries.  You can visit their Web site, found here, to submit your comments to the Commission.  Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children’s books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.

Jessica McGilvray, Assistant Director
Office of Government Relations
ALA Washington Office

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One Comment

  1. HollyJahangiri HollyJahangiri

    Dear Jessica McGilvrary,

    I read, with disappointment, the latest news from today’s District Dispatch regarding the meeting with the CPSC. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is overreaching and will have devastating effects on our economy at a time when we can least afford it – without affording children the “protection” that is its purported purpose. I am a mother, and as such, my first concern is my children’s safety. I don’t believe that the CPSIA does anything to assure that safety; however, it may deprive them of access to books – both old and new – and to handmade goods made by individuals and small businesses whose main reason for being was to produce safe, original children’s products as an alternative to the mass-marketed toys and clothes that have been the subject of recent recalls.

    I looked through those recalls. The only ones related to books involved faulty (dangerously faulty) technical instructions, and a few books with painted wire bindings (lead content). Most recalls involved toys or jewelry made in China, or clothing with small detachable parts (choking hazards) or drawstrings (strangulation hazards).

    I have been following this since the holidays, which is when I first learned of the CPSIA. As a children’s book author, I am affected by this law. My publisher is a small, woman-owned business (its president is a retired teacher and fellow author) that publishes mostly children’s and young adult books.

    As a mother and an author, I am horrified at the notion that our public libraries are faced with a choice like “remove books from the shelves” or “ban children from the library.” As a mother and an author, I hope that your decision is to (temporarily) ban children from the library and mark the children’s section “Intended for Adult Study of Children’s Literature.” (We subversive parents can still check books out for our children, but the ban might help to publicize the ridiculous, largely unintended – I hope – consequences of this law.) I am urging solidarity between authors, artisans, publishers, printers, clothiers, and others affected – we need to repeal this law, not get multitudinous tiny exceptions to it that will no doubt tie up valuable resources in numerous court cases, while small businesses die off waiting for relief.

    Holly Jahangiri

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