SALIS Digital Library—Indispensable Drug & Alcohol History Resource

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Points Editor Emeritus Ron Roizen.

Dear POINTS readers, 

If you haven’t yet made use of the SALIS Collection of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs digital library, then you may have a real treat in store. Curated and maintained by the Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists (SALIS) and hosted on the Internet Archive, the SALIS Collection:

“includes key seminal, full-text books, reports, documents, and other literature. Its subjects include both legal and illegal drugs, the use and misuse of chemicals, the role of education and prevention, physical health and mental health aspects, drug policy, legal issues, and more. It is international in its scope, and covers a wide number of disciplines.”

Whether or not you happen to live in a small North Idaho hamlet (as I do), SALIS’s online collection is an alcohol & drug researcher’s godsend. 

Salis Collection
SALIS Collection home page.

Say, for instance, I can’t find my copy of Pittman and Snyder’s classic 1962 volume, Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns, on my shelves. I just type in “Pittman and Snyder” at this website’s search field and up it pops. The same goes for the Alcohol Research Group’s invaluable conference report, Alcohol and Disinhibition (1983); or Plaut’s Cooperative Commission Report (1967), or, for that matter, Ernest Hurst Cherrington’s America and the World Liquor Problem (1922). 

Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns cover
Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns by David J. Pittman and Charles R. Snyder, is one of 5,807 volumes available in the SALIS Collection.

Same goes for book after book in our field—which appear onscreen in the Internet Archive’s page-turning format. The SALIS online library’s interface allows for searches using a number of different approaches. And the collection is free to use.

SALIS’s digital library currently numbers (as of this writing) 5,807 titles—and it’s still growing. SALIS Executive Director Andrea Mitchell tells me that the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), formerly directed by Ethan Nadelmann, recently donated its entire library to SALIS. DPA’s collection is currently in storage awaiting digitization. Andrea adds that SALIS plans to almost double its current online collection size during 2022.

SALIS began building its digital library in 2013, in response to the beginning of widespread budget cuts and the downsizing of alcohol and drug research collections. As researchers, of course, we’re in their debt.

As the collection description page explains:

“This unique collection includes full-text books, reports, documents, and grey literature regarding alcohol, tobacco, psychoactive substances (such as marijuana, opioids, heroin, and cocaine), and other drugs. The books and documents address drug use and misuse, chemical dependency and alcoholism, health complications, treatment and recovery, education and prevention, research and theory, policy and legal issues, societal issues, mental health aspects, process or behavioral addictions, and more. The collection has impressive breadth and depth, as it is international and interdisciplinary, encompassing all years.”

Andrea noted that the average cost of digitizing one volume is about $35. SALIS is thus asking for support from the research community to maintain and build this indispensable resource. Donations may be made online. Andrea Mitchell can be emailed directly at: amitchell@salis.org.

For my part, I think SALIS’s online library project represents a terrific and still-evolving resource for our research community—one that well deserves a helping hand from us.

With best regards from Wallace, Idaho,

—Ron Roizen.

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