The "big brother" federal government fears lead may exist in children's books. The operative word here is "may." We can find no evidence of anyone, child or otherwise, being harmed by ingesting books. However, those in power, in their infinite wisdom, decided that many items not known for containing lead or are not eatable are dangerous to children -- including books. The Consumer Product Safety Commission finally announced that ordinary books printed after 1984 are probably safe.
Now the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, as translated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, requires that children's books (written for children twelve and under) printed before 1985 are to be destroyed or placed where children cannot access them. Of course until recently, the law was interpreted to cover all books published for children under thirteen.
Therefore, libraries were "urged" to take children's books printed before 1985 off their shelves or make those books not accessible until the federal agency "investigates" whether vintage books contain unsafe levels of lead. (Side note: What are unsafe levels of lead in items not digested?)
CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said libraries can safely lend any children’s book printed in 1986 or later…. Until the testing is done, the nation’s more than 116,000 public and school libraries “should take steps to ensure that the children aren’t accessing those books,” according to Wlfson. “Steps can be taken to put them in an area on hold until the Consumer Product Safety Commission can give further guidance.”
However, most libraries are not complying, as stated in CPSC Demands that Libraries Remove Books. A local television station had a segment on the nine o'clock news about libraries having more children checking out books than in the past. There in video were shelves after shelves filled with older children's books, and - horror of horrors - children were handling them, reading them, checking them out, but not eating even one, not even a nibble.
As Valerie wrote in the entry posted March 17, 2009, "Few, if any, libraries are complying, and many librarians are ridiculing the recommendation as alarmist. Even the nation’s premier medical sleuths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say any danger from lead in children’s books is slight."
Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office, said, “We’re talking about tens of millions of copies of children’s books that are perfectly safe. I wish a reasonable, rational person would just say, `This is stupid. What are we doing?’” Where are any reasonable, rational people in Washington?
Has the federal government made our public and school libraries criminals? Where can that reasonable, sane person be found?