Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CPSIA By The Numbers: Libraries

Esther over at Design Loft has crunched the CPSIA numbers for libraries:

Total library inventory: 34,668
Total est. juvenile inventory: 10, 601
Percentage of juvenile inventory: 31%

Estimate of inventory pre-1985: 75% or 7951 units

Now if we have to test pre-1985 inventory at $500/book: $3,975,375

Now, I am assuming we will have to do the certified laboratory testing for several reasons. The testing costs were not included in the yearly budget, so we would have to reopen it and appropriate funds to pay for it. It is a lengthy, messy process to add to the budget, so money realistically won't be available until Oct 1st, long after the certified lab testing goes into effect. Next, we would need to pay staff to go through all of the shelves and box up the books. Oh yeah, and pay for the boxes and ship them to a certified lab clear across the country. Did I mention this library is in rural Idaho? Shipping costs alone will kill us. The testing costs exceed the entire city budget, btw.

It is unlikely that the city will appropriate funds for testing. That leaves us with throwing out 75% of our juvenile section and replacing those books. We would still need to estimate close to $4 million dollars for replacement costs, if replacements can be found on all the titles. Plus we would need to pay staff to sort, box up/throw out books, buy replacements, and process them. And did I mention books are heavy. I would love to see a garbage truck pick up our trash can loaded up with books! Of course, if they are banned hazardous substances, we can't just throw them in the dumpster. We would need a hazardous materials removal specialist to do that....

And really, this starts to become silly. We don't regulate what books or audio visual materials a child can checkout. This brings our entire collection of 35,000 items under suspicion. What will the kids read while we are in the process of removing, testing, replacing thousands of books?

So our realistic choices are:
1. Shut down our children's section, or
2. Ban kids 12 and younger from the library.

Not so realistic considering how popular our library is with kids.

BTW, the hottest new read is 1984 by George Orwell. I think it would be good to send our Congressional Representatives a copy, just make sure it is printed pre-1985.
Read the whole thing here. Cross-posted at Endangered Whimsy.