JIS News

As the nation observes National Drug Awareness Month in November, the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) is working hard to make researching the subject easier.
The Council’s recently launched online library service, www.ncdainfo.com, is a step in this direction. In September, the NCDA launched this service as part of the efforts to increase utilization of, and access to its resources on substance abuse.
By far, the Internet has vastly transformed the way people communicate and do business. Thus, realizing the transformational role of this communication technology, the NCDA has logged on to this trend, in a bid to affirm its presence.
Regionally and internationally, there is a growing need for information about the problem of drug abuse and the Jamaican response to this problem, says Director of Information and Research at the NCDA, Ellen Campbell-Grizzle.
“We are a national agency to provide information so we need to expand the means by which information is accessed and we are really trying to ramp up the level of service that we offer our clients,” she states.
These clients largely comprise CXC students completing school-based assessments and researchers. The NCDA Information and Research Director says that there are some 20 to 30 senior researchers who regularly utilize the services of the Library and Information Centre.
The website, www.ncdainfo.com, she notes, will alleviate the cumbersome ordeal of travelling to the NCDA offices in search of a particular publication, only to learn of its unavailability. It will facilitate access to, and an extensive search of the online references of the NCDA Library, which currently houses 514 books, and other resource materials.
“We are trying to provide this information to them so they can know the depth and breadth of our catalogue and what is available. Visitors to the website are now able to type in a search word on relevant topics and what will come on screen are the matches in our catalogue with topics or papers that pertains to this topic, complete with an abstract of the available paper or publication so that the researcher can know of its contents,” Mrs. Campbell-Grizzle explains.
“They can then call us or make an appointment to come in and do the research and get the references or to call to make copies. What we are sure of is that they will be able to begin the discussion from a more informed position,” she confidently states, while expressing high hopes that this online offering will boost utilization of the NCDA resources.
“Ultimately, what we are trying to achieve, is that having gone online and seen what we have, people will be more willing to come to our information centre located at 2-6 Melmac Avenue, (Cross Roads),” she notes.
The NCDA Library provides compact and up to date information on drug abuse such as growing trends, how it is likely to impact the country’s productivity level, and its link to HIV/AIDS.
“This is very important in terms of preventing and alleviating the problem of drug abuse,” states Mrs. Campbell-Grizzle.
In addition, through donations from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, a full time librarian has joined the staff of the NCDA. This move, she informs, places the agency in good stead, to better respond to its many research requests. She advises online users to call in and speak to the librarian, once they have located the particular publication, so they can be properly guided.
However, Mrs. Campbell-Grizzle quickly emphasizes, “We are not offering to do the research for them; we are offering to help that client to do a better search.” Ultimately, she stresses, the researcher will be the one conducting the research, but certainly in terms of the references that are available they can visit the website to begin.
The NCDA projects huge savings in time, energy and money for its varying target audiences, as a result of this new initiative. She reports, “We have been getting more calls from researchers who have been emailing wanting to know more about the service.”
“The uptake on the service is yet to be determined, but we are hoping that people will use it because of the time and energy that has gone into making it available, particularly for the students,” she adds.
For rural residents who have specific research needs, the NCDA Information and Research Director is appealing to them to start utilizing this service to make their research even better. She also urges members of the public who would like to learn about licit and illicit substances, to visit the NCDA Library, which she informs is the premier library on the problem of demand reduction in the region.
“Our library touches on topics such as health communication, parenting responses and behaviour change. You name it, we have it and we have most of the classic texts as well as a plethora of magazines on interdiction and punishing,” informs Mrs. Campbell-Grizzle, adding, “We are trying to expand the titles and range of our references.”
She lauds the marked contribution of the CHASE Fund, which facilitated the 16-month project, through funding provided to purchase books, reference material and magazines, computer software and other resources to expand the catalogue, and implement the service.
The Jamaica Library Service, she informs, has also played an integral role, especially as it relates to providing technical support and advice in getting the project online. Of note, she mentions, is the tremendous support that Jamaicans at home and abroad have provided, many of whom have donated books, coupons, and other resource materials.
The NCDA is an agency of the Ministry of Health and Environment, which was established by the Government of Jamaica in 1983. The NCDA promotes drug free lifestyles through seminars, leadership development, and mass media. It utilizes an integrated demand reduction approach designed to respond to the underlying identifiable causes that lead to the drug abuse problem in Jamaica.

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