Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Politics of Books

While I don't write children's books, I have to wonder what the House and Senate did to the industry when, in October, they voted (apparently without reading or understanding) to allow the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act to check for lead content in all children's books on bookstore shelves. Check out these articles http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi-bin/read/2009/01_29-07/REG and http://c3library.com/2009/01/05/cpsia-and-libraries/.

What the new law basically says is that since lead has been found in so many children's toys lately (thank you NAFTA for allowing everything to be made in China!), that books may also contain lead in the inks used.

"The first major requirement deadline is February 10, 2009 in which the initial lead ban goes into effect. Many in the retail industry are calling February 10th National Bankruptcy Day because of the devastating costs and testing requirements that apply to ALL children’s products," says the Convergence of Libraries and Technologies article.

Each book needs to be tested, and the largest problem is that there is only one place in the US that does this kind of testing. With a rather stiff fine of $100,000. per instance of non-compliance … well, let's just it's just pure stupidity.

I don't think I need to go on about how our elected officials are doing our bidding (NOT!), but it certainly makes you wonder what applying just a wee bit of forethought to their actions would have uncovered to prevent this mess of an already waning industry.

On the side of reason and intelligence, many societies and library associations are petitioning for a closer look at the law to make the necessary adjustments for a more realistic form of compliance.

3 comments:

Catherine said...

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions"

I'm sure our lawmakers thought this was a good idea to protect children but it is so unrealistic as far as books go, ESPECIALLY for libraries. We literally fight every step of the way for funding and most of us can't stock even close to all the books we would love to have, never mind all the other stuff we could put to good use. You all know this story. Every time anything about this law comes up my reaction is the same. My gut wrenches and my mouth spews forth things I can't type here followed by a huge ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! God bless America and our authors and librarians! (and our public serving lawmakers... NOT indeed!)

Catherine said...

Rest in Peace John Updike

Mary Duncan said...

The following is a statement issued today from Washington.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has voted to delay by one year new regulations on lead and chemical content of children's toys and products. This policy could prove overly burdensome to small businesses and non-profit retail stores, such as second-hand stores and church stores, which could be required to adhere to these CPSC regulations.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins believes that American children, regardless of their family’s income level, should have access to lead-free toys and other consumer items. But the regulations in question could have had unintended consequences that threaten to be overly burdensome to businesses such as thrift shops and to those who make handmade clothing and toys. For that reason, Senator Collins recently called on the CPSC to clarify these regulations.

"It is the responsibility of manufacturers and retailers to ensure that their products do not contain lead, or other hazardous materials. But regulations recently issued by the CPSC might have had unintended consequences that would have been harmful to thrift stores, church stores, small businesses, and individuals who make homemade crafts, clothing, and toys. While it is crucial for the CPSC to implement regulations to protect children from the hazards of lead, this delay will provide time for the Commission to provide more clarity to the American people," said Senator Collins.

So it looks like the industry was granted a reprieve.