Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congress Bans Children from Libraries

Thanks again to an overreacting, unthinking congress, libraries and their patrons end up in the cross hairs of congressional action. In an overreaction to an isolated problem of lead in toys made in China and without considering the scope of the problem or their bill, congress passed the "Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act." Thanks to a few highly publicized toy recalls and even though the Centers for Disease Control does not list toy contamination as a potential danger, congress rushed through a bill which will effect the entire US economy; from all new products, green organic products, homemade baby clothes to second hand toys in thrift shops. The CPSIA, intended to keep lead out of toys, may well also keep books out of libraries, says Emily Sheketoff, associate executive director of the American Library Association.

Since the law applies to both new and current items, libraries must test all their children's books for lead contamination or remove the books from their shelves, or remove the children from the library. Historically books were considered more dangerous to read than to eat but thanks to a memo by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, passed Christmas Eve, even books that were previously tested by their publishers will have to be tested again.

Since the law applies to products designed for children 12 years and younger it also applies to products and books designed for some middle school children. Yes, you really need to worry about middle schoolers chewing on their books. If you think this is a ridiculous overreaction please take a moment to contact your congressional representative and ask them to repeal this poor example of a law.

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