Purpose: This presentation shares the challenges, accomplishments and ongoing strategies of a team of 5 librarians (the Committee) advocating for special library services and collections in the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) field since 2004. The librarians, members of SALIS (Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists), are from Great Britain (1), Canada (1) and the US (3).
Setting: Late 2003, members of SALIS learned that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism planned to defund its Alcohol Research database, ETOH. This was a valuable tool for alcohol research, being comprehensive, well indexed, and multidisciplinary. This marked the beginning of a trend in library service cutbacks, closures and the loss of collections and bibliographic access, and the beginning of the ongoing work of the advocacy Committee. SALIS is an international organization, with hubs in Canada, the US, Europe and Australia, with a close relationship with Elisad (European Association of Libraries and Information Services on Addictions). SALIS and Elisad maintain strong networks that include researchers and other ATOD experts.
Method: The Committee’s work involves: Maintaining a log of affected ATOD information services; Writing and disseminating position statements; Presenting at Meetings (librarian and other); Networking with Research Communities. A chronology of key events is provided. All is done in recognition that innovative, constructive change is necessary.
Results: One recent accomplishment will be highlighted. An editorial by the Committee, Collective Amnesia: Reversing the Global Epidemic of Addiction Library Closures, has been accepted for publication in the journal Addiction, offering opportunities to further disseminate the message.
Discussion: Although the trend in cutbacks continues, the importance of ongoing advocacy work, and maintaining or possibly recreating roles for special librarians and information services, will be discussed.