Inez Tenenbaum, the new chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Last Friday's Senate confirmation of Inez Tenenbaum as the new head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission has given many in the publishing industry hope that some of the issues surrounding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act may finally be resolved.

Little is known about Tenenbaum’s thoughts on the CPSIA as it applies specifically to the publishing industry and libraries. But in her prepared remarks before the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee on June 16, Tenenbaum, former superintendent of education in South Carolina, noted that the implementation of the Act will be her highest priority. During questioning, she emphasized the need for common sense and cooperation among the CPSC, the Commerce Committee, children’s product industries, and consumer groups. Tenenbaum also said she was aware of the concerns of small businesses and other constituencies, but that it was too soon to take a position on whether the Act needs to be changed.

“She understands there are a number of problems and is willing to work with the stakeholder community to resolve them,” says Allan Adler, v-p for legal and government affairs for the Association of American Publishers.

“We are looking forward to her joining the Commission,” adds Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office, who reports that she sent a letter to Tenenbaum on June 30 asking her to make a statement soon on whether libraries should be excluded from CPSIA’s provisions, as ALA has argued. “We really think this law should not apply to children’s books on library shelves,” she says.

One of the most pressing issues for publishers currently is figuring out how to comply with the CPSIA-mandated tracking label provision. The Act dictates that all children’s publishers and other children’s marketers must, as of August 15, include information on each product about the source of that item (e.g., where and in what batch a book was printed). The CPSC has not yet issued guidance on what form the tracking labels should take, but Adler expects that to be forthcoming in August. “My understanding is it will focus on ensuring flexibility,” he explains, “in recognition of the wide variety of children’s products involved.”