Learn more about the library at the American Dental Association!

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American Dental Association Library
by Jeannie Dilger-Hill, Metropolitan Library System, originally appeared in MLS Ennounce

The American Dental Association (ADA) is a professional association of dentists committed to the public’s oral health, ethics, science, and professional advancement. Formed in 1859, the ADA today has more than 155,000 dentist members. It is the largest and oldest national dental association in the world. The Association has more than 400 employees at its headquarters in Chicago and its office in Washington, D.C.

The ADA Library was started in 1927, to provide resources and reference service to ADA members. The library's primary mission is to serve the information needs of ADA members and support the needs of ADA staff. The ADA Library contains an extensive collection of nearly 30,000 books and over 600 current journals, covering all areas of dentistry and oral health, including clinical, research, practice management and historical topics.

In addition to materials on dentistry and related medical fields, the library also collects materials on “practice management” to assist dentists in running their practice. This collection covers everything from hiring and training staff to dealing with financial issues like billing and insurance.

The library also includes an ADA archive, which includes rare artifacts and gifts to the ADA along with historical documents of the association. Archival items include a 19th-century foot-powered drill, a case of antique ivory dental instruments, dentures, and more.

The ADA library has a staff of fourteen, including five professional librarians and a professional archivist. The staff answers questions on all sorts of topics in dentistry, including:

  • the effects of obesity on oral health,
  • the relationship between dementia and tooth loss,
  • new techniques in dentistry,
  • fluoride and bottled water, and
  • the relationship between osteoporosis medications and necrosis of the jaw.

Because the majority of ADA members are outside the Chicago area, the library provides a whole host of services by mail, phone, fax, and web. For instance, journal articles are sent by PDF or mail for $7 to ADA members, and in-depth research on a subject costs $25. International dentists can join as ADA affiliate members, and many services are available for them as well, with additional shipping or fax charges. Almost all requests are filled within 3-days.

The library is also open to the public for on-site use on clinical topics. Reference questions are accepted by phone from the public only on the history of dentistry (e.g. “When was floss invented?”), and genealogy (e.g. “My ancestor was a dentist. Can you find him in any directories?”). Because of the historical depth of the collection, the library loans a lot of materials on interlibrary loan. Requests come frequently from hospital libraries and dental schools throughout the country.

The ADA Library is open to the public 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can visit the library on the sixth floor of the ADA Headquarters Building at 211 East Chicago Avenue in downtown Chicago. Or you can see the library online, through their video tour. For more information about the ADA Library,visit the library's website, call (800) 621-8099 extension 2653, or e-mail library@ada.org.

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