New Law May Eviscerate Libraries

Filed under: Places To Go, Health & Safety: Babies, Day Care & Education

Children's section of a libraryWhat if you walked into your local public library and there were no books for kids? Or, worse yet, what if your children simply weren't allowed in the library? I don't know about you, but the public library was an integral part of my childhood. We're lucky enough to live near the library I frequented as a child and it still looks very much the same -- with its mile-high ceilings and shelves of books reaching for the sky. But all that might go away when a new federal law goes into effect next month.

Called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the intent is to protect children from lead in games, toys, and clothing. The problem is that the ink used to print books may have trace amounts of lead. That means books need to be tested and, possibly, taken out of circulation. Testing alone could cost between three and six hundred dollars per book. "We just can't afford to do that, and most of the tests would destroy the books. So, we just think this is crazy," said Emily Sheketoff, of the American Libraries Association.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that it "does not want to take books away from kids. We want to encourage reading but also have kids with safe products." The CPSC is trying to develop specific guidelines for libraries, schools and bookstores to find a balance between the need for strict safety and practicality.

If you ask me, books are too important to worry about trace amounts of lead. There are better ways to spend money keeping kids safe -- testing imported products comes to mind.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.