Dental Association May Reduce Library Offerings

With usage low, the American Dental Association’s governing body is voting on whether to cut library services, but it faces member backlash.

In a move that has some members grinding their teeth in irritation, the American Dental Association’s Board of Trustees is proposing to limit the services of its professional library.

According to a statement by the association, ADA would do away with its Chicago library’s walk-in services, including lending books and other materials, as part of its proposed 2013 budget.  Less than 1 percent of its members use the library, the ADA said.

“The board considered the cost and the value of all ADA programs as part of the budget process and ranked programs in terms of alignment with the ADA strategic plan in order to best allocate financial resources,” the association said. “After a thorough assessment and ranking of all programs of the ADA, some aspects of library use were determined to be of lower widespread usage, and the board agreed it was prudent to sunset those in 2013.”

ADA is looking into the possibility of housing some of its book collection with regional medical libraries as well as exploring what online services it could provide to members.

“As the method of research and library use continues to evolve, so too must the ADA in order to provide relevant services to ADA members and profession,” the organization said.

But some members are not happy or assuaged by the promise of greater digital services.

“It’s disturbing because it’s a great resource that I’ve used many times, and it’s been so helpful,” Chicago dentist Neal Nealis told “I’ve probably read more than a dozen textbooks cover to cover that I’ve checked out.”

Nealis also said the library gives him access to expensive textbooks. “I get a lot of information from books that aren’t worth owning, but they’re worth reading and I do learn something,” he said.

In an op-ed, Mary J. Hayes, DDS, said she may not visit the ADA library frequently, but knowing it is there is important. “When I need a question answered or access to a pricey, uncommon journal or book, I know where to go, and I know who to ask,” she said. “I know I will get fast, accurate service.”

Hayes compared the preservation of the library to that of national parks in the United States.

“It is a national premise that preserving the Grand Canyon is critically important to all of us as citizens, whether or not we can personally manage a visit to see this special place,” she said. “Likewise, dismantling the ADA library is not in our best interests as ‘citizens’ of the proud profession of dentistry.”

The association’s House of Delegates is voting on the 2013 budget at a meeting that ends today, following ADA’s annual meeting in San Francisco last weekend. Any changes to the library will go into effect next year.

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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