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By Heather Warlick Published: January 31, 2009
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The threat of banning children from libraries or pulling books from shelves was delayed for a year after a federal decision Friday.

The issue revolves around a new act that lowers the lead content acceptable in products intended for children younger than 12. It meant public, school, academic and museum libraries would have been required to either test their children’s books for lead or keep children away from the books. The requirement was to go into effect Feb. 10.

"You would have to get rid of your entire collection and buy all new, and the cost would be stunning, or you would have to ban children, and neither of those is a good idea, so it’s just impossible,” said Susan McVey, director of Pioneer Library System.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s postponement has much to do with thousands of e-mails, calls and written inquiries from librarians and others who don’t understand the intent of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act or how to comply, according to the commission. The American Library Association has petitioned the commission to exclude libraries from requiring testing.

"It’s a sigh of relief for the library community because at least we have a year, we don’t have to worry about closing library doors,” said Jenni Terry, press secretary for the American Library Association’s Washington, D.C., office. "But at the same time, it’s not resolved.”

Though libraries are safe for now, parts of the act will be enacted by Feb. 10. Items that were required for testing and certification prior to the new law — cribs and pacifiers, metal parts for children’s jewelry and other small parts — will be required to adhere to the new standards.