Lead Law Exemption Gets Libraries Off the Hook

San Jose Mercury News reports that libraries are the latest organizations to win relief from a tough new federal law taking effect today that all but bans lead in children’s products.

On Friday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission exempted children’s books printed after 1985 from the new law’s enforcement provisions, which allow fines of as much as $100,000 per violation for selling or distributing products that contain more than 600 parts per million of lead intended for use by children 12 and younger.

“We’re jubilant,” said Barbara Roberts, president of the California Library Association on Monday. Before the exemption, Roberts said libraries across the nation faced the prospect of closing their children’s sections and discarding thousands of books from their collections. Roberts added that she was bewildered that lawmakers would pass a law with such broad reach “without thinking of the ramifications in the field.”

There’s a big exception though. Jennifer Baker, library director with the St. Helena Public Library in Napa Valley, said the law still puts off limits to children rare, older books. She said one library at which she worked kept a collection of Mother Goose books from the early 1900s, while others retain original copies of old classics, like those from the Nancy Drew or Tom Swift series, she said. I guess they’ll have to wait til they’re adults to enjoy the books.