Garden City Replacing Kids' Books on Lead Concerns

Fed agency says de-shelving not necessary


The Garden City Library is the beneficiary of a $10,000 grant to replace older children's books that may or may not be tainted with traces of lead.

Library Director Lisa Zeiter has removed many of the books—titles like the Hardy Boys, Little House on the Praire and Dr. Seuss books that predate 1985—from the shelves and stacked them in her office. The grant will pay for newer versions of the books guaranteed to be lead free.

The problem is no one knows if the older books have lead in them or not.

"It's not necesary for libraries to replace their books prior to 1985," said Patty Davis, spokeswoman for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Libraries should not be pulling books off of the shelves."

The Commission is charged with enforcing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The Act set tougher standards for lead levels in children's products among other health and safety measures.

The law went into effect in August 2008, but libraries have been granted a stay and Davis said the agency is still working on guidance.

"We are working to implement the law in as common sense a way as possible," she said.

Zeiter said it would destroy many libraries if they are forced to remove children's books from the shelves, especially smaller libraries in Idaho. She said there is an effort in the U.S. Senate to remove public libraries from the realm of the law.

"To me it's just in limbo," Zeiter said.

But in May she applied for the grant from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, Inc. and just learned that she received it.

"We feel it is our responsibility to do our part to ensure children in our community have safe books to read," Zeiter said in a press release. "We are grateful to Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, Inc. for helping us meet our goals."

The grant will help pay to replace 1,200 titles at the library.