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Scattered Resources Coming Together

A Quick Update on the Digital Alcohol Studies Archives

It’s exciting but also a bit intimidating to admit that I have been following in the footsteps of all the people who collected and preserved content related to alcohol research since 1939, when the first major grant from the Carnegie Corporation was awarded to document, index, and abstract the scientific literature on the effects of alcohol on the individual. Thanks to a Short Research Leave from New Brunswick Libraries (22 days awarded to dedicate to this project), I had the chance to look into the feasibility of creating the Digital Alcohol Studies Archives on various platforms of Rutgers University Libraries.

Today, on the last day of my leave from the daily work of a Rutgers librarian once a week since July, the verdict is that “it takes a village.” This was my catchphrase in our demo, hosted by the RUL Scholarly and Professional Activity Committee on December 1, 2021. I was honored to have this opportunity to share the preliminary findings with the Rutgers community. I also greatly appreciated that several colleagues who had worked on this project or supported it one way or another accepted my invitation  See details in the SAPAC guide.

Project Summary

A summary of the work completed in the second half of 2021 is as follows. Read the full report.

  • Identified about 2,000 potential items and saved on secure platforms. Quality assessed, potential issues to share on various platforms discussed.
  • Pilot Omeka site has been set up with collections, items, and exhibits. Site potential has been tested with about 100 items, including image conversion to archival quality and other sustainability issues. .
  • RUcore as new component set up with four collections and items (live instantly); Workflow Management System: Alcohol Archives workflow developed with metadata librarian, I completed training and added about 100 items.
  • RUL WordPress site migration to RU WordPress site considered and rejected. Instead, RUL Drupal site as alternative accepted as front end, site designed in RUL development system by IIS, pilot pages to test appearance, workflow, and sustainability added by IIS and myself.
  • Narratives and descriptions drafted by Graduate Specialist. Further SC&I graduate student help explored for future support.
  • Feedback solicited from select NBL colleagues, CAS faculty, and students of SC&I Masters of Information course “Digital Libraries.”
  • Preliminary findings shared with RUL colleagues at SAPAC (December 1, 2021), available in the SAPAC guide.


I concluded the December 1 presentation with my reflections on the project as follows.

Covid 19 has been a once-in-a-generation moment for all of us, while some of us had more.  We can’t avoid reflecting on the past year and a half and on the impact these times have on everything around. The idea I follow is to reflect on what matters to me, and how that has changed since March 2020. Then take actions, before it’s too late. I did that and this is what happened.

I also try to think about how values have shifted as a result of Covid. This project helps me collaborate with like-minded colleagues and continue my usual approach to share the credit and shoulder the blame.

Future Plans

The Short Research Leave confirmed the significance and the feasibility of a larger project aiming to share parts of this hidden collection online. From its beginnings, CAS has provided a model for multidisciplinary collaboration among scientists, social scientists, and practitioners; and has been a pioneer of socially engaged scholarship to advocate for treating addiction as a disease rather than stigmatizing it as a moral failing.

To continue to work on the project, I have requested a one-semester sabbatical leave in order to create the actual Digital Alcohol Studies Archives on Rutgers University Libraries (RUL) platforms.

Quick Links

Alcohol Studies Archives in Service

The introductory video on the CAS website features images from the collection in the CAS conference room.