What does a visit to the ADA Library really cost?

2009 12 11 14 00 01 405 Second Opinion

In "ADA responds to debate over library cuts," Dr. Kathleen O'Loughlin, executive director of the ADA, states, "Each member that physically entered the library in 2012 came at a cost of $1,000 per use."

Dr. O'Loughlin ought to know that is not how to do a cost analysis. She is demonstrating for us how we need to be very concerned about our financial stability because, by her logic, if the doors were locked to members in 2012, then the library would have cost the ADA nothing. Yes? In truth, keeping the door open doesn't cost a nickel. In fact, users that browse the books and copy their own journal articles are less expensive because library staff time is nil.

The truth is that the library costs the ADA 1% of its expense budget. Our financial stability is more likely found within the 99% that goes to who knows what. Let us have our library that, for 85 years, has served the members and the profession well.

It is sad how many ADA members were not aware we even had a library. Marketing our discounts for car rentals, appliances, etc. wouldn't have cost a nickel more if they included the library as a benefit of membership. The booklet on member benefits doesn't even mention that we have a library, and nowhere does it broadcast that members can save more money per year than they pay in dues by using the library's services.

Cutting the library down is a callous disregard for what the members expect to be done with our dues. Our grass roots movement disagrees with the analysis made about the library. Members that aren't active library users do actively want the library to be maintained. Among the supporters are the Illinois State Dental Society and the American Association of Dental Editors.

I haven't met anyone who feels $12 per member is too much. It is the only direct benefit of membership, where our dollars come directly back to us via book loans by mail, article copies, reference packages, and assistance from knowledgeable dental librarians. Cutting us out from this benefit, as planned, pretty much puts us on equal footing with nonmembers who are looking for self-education via new books and Cochrane Library full-text articles, etc.

The ADA Library's mission fits very nicely within the goals of the ADA and our core values; to make it sound otherwise is ludicrous. If membership in the ADA is to give us advantages over nonmembers, do not take away our library privileges.

If the library budget were restored and the library's benefits marketed in terms of direct dollars saved by borrowing books, obtaining the other services, etc., then even nonmembers might want to get in on this. I don't see how the ADA can toss out our built-in membership recruitment and retention tool. It is good for clinical dentists and it is good for the ADA.

Spencer Bloom, DDS, is a general dentist in private practice in the Chicago area and a 1979 graduate of the University of Illinois School of Dentistry. He is currently vice president of the northwest side branch of the Chicago Dental Society.

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