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Alarm Raised As Libraries Continue To Close

June 12, 2012

Members of the Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists (SALIS) are calling for urgent action to halt the closure of specialist libraries and databases, before valuable resources and expertise are lost forever.

Since SALIS started actively campaigning against the closure of alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) libraries and databases eight years ago, more than twenty-five libraries and databases worldwide have been downsized or closed, their resources dispersed or destroyed.

In 2004 SALIS waged a campaign to persuade the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to reverse its decision to cut funding for ETOH, the most comprehensive alcohol science database in the world. Then in 2006, when the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse closed its library, a collection of great value dating back to the mid 1930s, SALIS brought the issue to the forefront of the ATOD media.

To raise awareness, SALIS members have published an editorial in the journal Addiction calling for collaboration among librarians, the research community and other stakeholders to maintain ATOD library services and preserve core collections; fund digitization; and create digital repositories.

If action is not taken, important documents could be lost forever, especially the grey literature, i.e. unpublished reports and working papers, government documents, and programmatic materials, which tend to disappear when libraries are closed.

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