Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



Library Philosophy and Practice 2012


Universities are relied on for education, training and manpower development and research for socio-economic development of any nation. For Universities to meet up with the onerous responsibility, they need to provide strong literature support to the teaching, learning, research and community development activities. The unit of the university responsible for the provision, management and dissemination of information to support the effective and expeditious attainment of the objectives of the university is its library. It is pertinent to state that the increase in the volume of literature in the library collection has been occurring at an exponential rate in this information age century. Nevertheless, many University Libraries globally are beset with dearth of information resources especially in the professions and local content. This is due to the fact that in the field of librarianship and information science generally, there has been an out cry for literatures in quest of people utilitarian. While relief has come to some of the libraries through computerization and internet connectivity, there is still the pressing need to more effectively manage Grey Literature for higher education and research as they are often not accessible on the web.

Grey literature(GL) is from a broader term ephemera which is defined as a collective name given to material which carries a verbal or illustrative processes, but not in the standard book, pamphlet or periodical format (Makepeace,1985). Examples of ephamera are calendars, clippings, company reports, guides, information leaflets, menus, newsletters, newspapers, press release, and society ephemera. The acceptance of the collective term GL dates to the York Seminar of 1978 (Gibb G.M and Philip E.1989), which was a milestone in its development. It was clearly recognized that GL was in fact, a primary information source, the seminar resulted in the creation of the System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe (SIGLE)database, which was initially supported by the European Economic Community (EEC) and is now managed by the European Association for Grey Literature.

There are divergence of opinion regarding to the definition of GL. Moahi (1995) defined Grey Literature as "material that is not commercially published and therefore not to be found in the normal channels associated with commercially published literature". Grey Literature includes research reports, reports of meetings, conferences, seminars and workshops, students' projects, theses and dissertations, in-house publications of associations and organizations and all forms of government publications including legislative materials, budgets and development plans. Augur (1989), citing Debachere defined Grey Literature as a term used variably by the intelligence community, librarians, and medical and research professionals to refer to a body of materials that cannot be found easily through conventional channels such as publishers, but which is frequently original and usually recent.

Library of Congress subject Headings (LCSH) defined GL as "reports, thesis, conference papers, translations of limited circulation and government documents. Wood (1984) cited in Kwafo-Akolo(1995)described GL as "the material which is not available through the normal book selling. Sala(1995) describes GL as the documents that are not available through the conventional commercial distribution channels and therefore difficult to identify and obtain. The Russian National Public Library for science and technology views GL as a publications of limited circulation(under 1500 copies) issued by minor publishing houses that is hardly accessible.

In summary GL can be referred to as unpopular but precious semi published information materials with very limited circulation which are not usually accessible through the normal commercial book channels such as publishers catalogue and book shops.

Grey materials have a tremendous benefit not only to the users and authoritarian organizations, but also to the society at large. Auger,C.P (1994) noted that GL offer a number of advantages over other means of dissemination, including greater speed, greater flexibility and the opportunity to go into considerable detail if necessary. white papers (which is a type of GL) often contain useful findings based on surveys, interviews, and other forms of original research, and business white paper can be a valuable source of information to librarians and business practitioners (Juricek,John Eric 2009).

GL also provides current information and facts on various topics. (Aina, 2004) Stated that "Conventionally, grey literature in terms of its usage and function can be classified as reference sources that are considered occasionally for the provision of information and facts on a variety of topics, at users request. They provide background information on any topic, as well as current information. However because of the importance of these reference materials they are usually separated from the regular non-fiction books". Evans(1995) is of the opinion that as the result and aspiration from library users who are anxious to make sense of the present, worried about future and hungry about information of the past, the only way to satisfy the hunger is to provide these patrons with information so that they can plan for the future ,come to grip with the past and make positive changes here in the present, and this can only be achieved by adequately providing GL in the library. Another important reason for storage, preservation and dissemination of GL is the fact that users cannot rely solely on commercial avenues for vital information as most of the available information through books selling and distribution channels have been distorted and even some of these materials are quite expensive for average user to acquire.

In a research conducted by Aina(1992) cited by kwafo-Akoto(1995) the result of the analysis of development of literature produced in Botswana over a 3-year period showed that GL constituted 98% of all the development literature produced in South Africa. This reveals the role of GL in national development. This proves that GL, when effectively harnessed and utilized, is Sine qua-non to knowledge and development of any nation. From the study conducted by Bichtler(1991) grey literature was an important component of the information used by geoscientists. As research into the potential of karst for benefit or hazard to humanity intensifies, information integration and linkages promoting collaboration and connectivity among scientists, decision-makers, educators, and the general public are essential. Chavez, Perrault, and Reehling (2006) reported in their findings that Karst researchers are faced with three inextricably related challenges one of them is obtaining and preserving "grey" karst information sources. Irwin Weintraub (2000) asserts that, "In a world in which free trade and instantaneous communication have eliminated many of the barriers to information flow, grey literature is gaining greater importance as a source of information for much of the world's population. Grey material is an indispensable resource for an informed and enlightened public and will undoubtedly continue to serve as a necessary supplement to journal literature well into the future."

When viewed against the background of the importance of Grey Literature in the socio-cultural and economic development of any nation, the dire need to manage and disseminate Grey Literature effectively by the University libraries becomes glaring.

Unfortunately, many information professionals shy away from integrating GL into their collection as a result of varied challenges associated with GL handling, such as problem of acquisition, organization, storage/preservation ,availability and access. For instance . Kebede (1995) states that GL constitutes a substantial proportion of indigenous documentary information resources in Africa (that means that most indigenous information in Africa appear in the form of GL), and Aina opines that one would expect this type of important literature to be prevalent in most African Libraries but the reversed is the case. In agreement with this statement Sturges and Neil (1990) lamented that most of these publications do not appear in most African national bibliographies.

The challenges stem from the distinguishing characteristics of GL, such as limited print runs, poor publicity, poor bibliographic control, usually flimsy or insubstantial, transient, availability depends on where produced, by whom, for what purpose and where available and so acquisition, storage, classification and cataloguing may not fall within the accepted methods. This research seeks to address and to resolve some of the challenges in grey literature management.

The main objective of this work is to identify how GL is being managed with the aid of ICTs for higher education and research at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Lovejoy Library. The specific objectives include: a. Procedures for GL organization. b. challenges and solutions to the problems associated with GL handling for easy access. The rest of this work is divided into 5. sections , section 1. is methodology,2. Deals with the Background information of the library (Lovejoy Library), section 3. Procedures for the organization of a genre of grey material: Government Document, section 4. Cataloging of Thesis (a type of grey material) and the challenges with solutions, section 5. Discussions, conclusion and recommendation.



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