Libraries warn new rule could shut down children's sections - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Libraries warn new rule could shut down children's sections


JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- Your local library is worried. 

It's concerned new federal regulations could force it to destroy every single one of its children's books.

That is, unless librarians can come up with a feasible way to test books for lead paint.

"It went overboard," said Sharon Grover, head of the children's section at the Janesville Hedberg Public Library for 30 years.  "We'd be essentially forced to shut our doors to children."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission indicated it wanted libraries, schools, and other organizations that stock books to test them for lead ink or paint.

The rules were in response to lead scares this summer from toys made primarily in China.  Regulations were supposed to take effect this month, but have been postponed after an outcry from schools and libraries.

"No one has ever said, oh my gosh, we have to do this, kids are getting sick," said Grover, whose department has about 60,000 children's books.

She's never heard of a single case where a child from the Janesville library got lead poisoning from putting a book in his or her mouth.

And, apparently, neither has the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

A spokeswoman said the agency knows of zero cases that trace lead poisoning to books.

Wisconsin's Dept. of Health and Family Services also knows of zero cases in state history.  About 2,000 children get lead poisoning a year in Wisconsin, mostly from lead paint chips, but none of them from books.

Janesville's library takes great pains to disinfect baby toys with bleach every evening.

They take no such precautions with books, because they're believed to be generally safe.

The CPSC stressed its intention is not to cause libraries to close, and is reviewing the guidelines.  It postponed any rules for at least one year.

Email Dan Cassuto at



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