The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) has lost its funding, so their library is also out like the baby with the bathwater. ADCA provides a drug resource service (National Drugs Sector Information Service, NDSIS) to support those working to prevent or reduce the harm to individuals, families, communities and the nation caused by alcohol and other drugs. This includes non-government agencies (such as those addressing homelessness); government departments, police and prison services, health professionals, professional organisations and more.
Identifying and disseminating this supporting evidence is a large task done by some of ADCA’s 15 staff members: librarians, library technicians and experienced library staff – it’s a small yet important organisation. This national information clearinghouse for the Australian alcohol and other drugs field was established in 1974, and the huge collection has made an invaluable contribution to our health legislation. In addition to assisting ADCA clients, another benefit (Shelling, 2006) arising from the continual task of collating and curating this information is the DRUG database through RMIT, Informit. Without monthly database updates, the reduced currency of the database will have detrimental impacts on the health professionals that rely on it to provide contemporary research outcomes, meaning that they cannot provide the best patient care.
Jane Shelling (Manager NDSIS at ADCA), discusses the important role of the ADCA library:
“Perhaps the biggest benefit of working for this NGO [ADCA], and the reason staff retention is so high, is that you truly belong to a special sector. The NRC [National Resource Centre, now NDSIS] is assisting people from all over Australia who are working in varying capacities to help those with alcohol and other drug problems. Many are not well paid and are themselves working for a non-government agency but are passionate about their work and grateful to library staff who help them with research and information gathering.” (Shelling, 2008, p. 11).
In a presentient article, Shelling also observed the growing trend of library closures in the addiction field in the US, and how in Australia, “…librarians need to speak out, advocate within our own organisations and out in the real world for quality information, libraries, and LIS professionals… Infiltrate and promote at all opportunities: special libraries are worth the effort not just to LIS professionals or researchers but to everyone. Find your voice and make it heard.” (Shelling, 2012, p. 3).
We all need to find our voice to stand up for ADCA library, as without their contribution, people working with those most at risk will be deprived of evidence-based research assistance. The ADCA library has such a diverse range of clients because “…alcohol and drugs can touch all parts of society.” (Shelling, 2012b), and it is to everyone’s benefit to maintain this service.
The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) is waging a campaign against the defunding, going directly to Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash’s home town of Young, NSW tomorrow during the National Cherry Festival. It is hoped that this presence will highlight the damage caused by the decision to cease funding ADCA’s vital work. Please join ALIA in fighting for ADCA library! You can find out more about the campaign, visit the National Cherry Festival this Saturday 7 December (tomorrow!), tell others about the issue with the hashtag #saveADCA, and sign the petition, or text “save the books” to 0426 143 349.
If this isn’t enticing enough, the National Cherry Festival itself has a wonderful program so you can display your ADCA library support at all the different activities. I can testify that the Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Championships are a highlight, registration is at 2pm on Saturday. Here is my less than successful attempt from 2009 – I have spared you the most graphic shots. I took my strategy from a portly young man competing before me. Perhaps I shouldn’t have viewed him as a mentor, as he was a bit unwell after competing in several heats. It’s a long story!
My thoughts and best wishes are with ADCA and their staff, I hope that the festival stall on Saturday will contribute to a revision of the funding decision. Remember to tear yourself away from the pies, and find out more about ADCA library at ALIA’s stall, then even visit Young’s own South-West Regional Library branch (open M-F 9-5 and Saturdays 9:30-2).
Shelling, J. (2006). ADCA recommends… alcohol and other drugs resources for the health library. Incite. 27, 25.
Shelling, J. (2008). Working for a Non-government Special Library. Incite. 29, 11.
Shelling, J. (2012a). Collective amnesia – are we complicit in the closure of special libraries?. Incite. 33, 3.
Shelling, J. (2012b). A push technology personal librarian project. Australian Academic & Research Libraries. 43, 135-145.
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