ALA Files Comments, Urges CPSC To Exempt Libraries from Regulation Under Consumer Product Safety Act

Contact: Jenni Terry
ALA Washington Office
202-628-8410
jterry@alawash.org

NEWS
For Immediate Release
January 26, 2009

WASHINGTON , D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) today filed comments with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), urging the commission to issue notification confirming that the new lead limits under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSIA) do not apply to library books and related materials.

Under the CPSIA, which was passed by Congress in August, children’s products are required to undergo stringent testing for lead and phthalates. Currently, the General Counsel of the CPSC  is interpreting the law  to  apply to ordinary, paper-based books for children  12  years of age or younger, so that all such books and product would have to be tested for lead content.  Therefore, public, school, academic and museum libraries would be required either to remove all their children’s books or ban all children under 12 from visiting the facilities as of February 10.

The ALA’s comments explain that the new CPSIA standards applicable to children’s products should not apply to library books on library shelves prior to February 10.  Since a library’s books are neither “produced” nor “distributed” by the library, the law should not apply to library books.  At this point, however, the CPSC has indicated that the law will apply to libraries. 

Additionally, the ALA’s comments reaffirm the comprehensive evidentiary support the publishing community has supplied the Commission that children’s books do not present any of the health or safety risks to children that the law aims to address. This evidence provides an ample basis for CPSC to exercise its regulatory authority to determine that books inherently satisfy the new lead standards. 

Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said it is critical the CPSC take these comments into consideration.

“If the commission does not correct their ruling to include library books under the regulation of the Consumer Product Safety Act, communities and schools across the country are going to be shocked and outraged on February 10,” Sheketoff said.

“While we understand the process the CPSC must carry out in order to ensure this law is properly enforced and that the safety of our nation’s children is protected, we believe the commission is wasting time and resources by zeroing in on book

publishers and libraries. It is our hope that this matter will be resolved soon, so that libraries can continue their efforts to serve children without the threat of closing their doors.”

The ALA’s letter to the CPSC can be viewed here