Managing Grey Literature: Technical Services Perspectives. Eds. Michelle Leonard and Susan E. Thomas. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2022. 128 p. $69.99 softcover (ISBN: 978-0-8389-4881-1).

Grey literature contains valuable resources often overlooked by libraries because of the ambiguity surrounding the management and cataloging of these document types. This book examines the topic of grey literature to highlight its importance and to provide a holistic approach to integrating these materials into a collection. Throughout the six chapters, experts demystify grey literature, both showing a need to incorporate and how to successfully manage it, as well as addressing issues related to selecting, cataloging, marketing, and sustaining these materials.

The opening chapter discusses the historical origins and the definition of grey literature, explaining that the ambiguity of what grey literature is makes it difficult to identify these documents and to reach a consensus on a single definition other than unpublished materials. There is no standardized list for grey literature document types, but one attempt to compile a list is GreyNet. Despite efforts for GreyNet to be complete, some materials, like scientific reports, do not appear on the list, while some types, such as articles, may or may not be published. These materials prove difficult to catalog because there are no standardized rules. Additionally, who authored the material is generally unknown, except for theses or dissertations, so the issuing organization is the primary way to find the resource when searching. The informational value of grey literature is high because many scientific results within the reports or dissertations may never be published as detailed as in their original form. Digital technology provides quicker access to this information; however, copyright issues may arise when incorporating them into digital collections. The chapter identifies leading libraries and organizations that focus on grey literature to offer guidance in how they define and manage these materials. It concludes by iterating the importance of grey literature, briefly touching on the impact of the digital age on the supply and demand for content.

The middle four chapters provide case studies with key takeaways at the end of each chapter, offering ways to incorporate and manage grey literature within a library’s collection. Chapter 2 details the decision-making process for the collection development of grey literature. It presents the challenges faced while collecting or selecting, creating access, monitoring usage, and weeding these materials. It provides details on data collection and its use for the collection maintenance of grey literature. The chapter highlights a case study on weeding government documents and concludes with the argument that data usage practices can provide necessary information for the selection and weeding of grey literature, allowing libraries to build rich collections.

Chapter 3 focuses on cataloging grey literature, specifically the Institute for Development Anthropology (IDA) Project. It delves into a literature review to highlight the lack of metadata standardization for grey literature and the attempts to create identifier systems and specialized schema to supplement existing cataloging standards. The IDA Project demonstrates the development of a workflow and bibliographic template for cataloging grey literature to establish local standardization. Furthermore, it highlights digitizing the IDA collection and provides the workflow for creating the metadata needed to ensure consistency in cataloging. The chapter concludes by evaluating the IDA Project and encourages libraries to create their own local workflows and templates to make it easier to catalog grey literature.

Chapter 4 discusses the value of persistent identifiers (PID) in promoting access to and improving the discovery of grey literature by focusing on two projects by GreyNet International, the AccessGrey Project and the PID Project. AccessGrey is a two-part project to establish if PIDs provided valuable incentives for authors to allow their material to be deposited in a digital repository. The project’s findings identified a perceived high value to using PIDs, but there was no definitive incentive for authors to add their materials to a digital repository. As a follow-up to AccessGrey, the PID Project aims to create a PID graph and contribute to initiatives such as OpenAIRE to show how PIDs advance research in the field of grey literature. The chapter highlights the project’s data workflow implementation identifying three main tasks, the problems encountered, and the PID graph created from the actionable PIDs compiled. It gives additional information on implementing a PID graph with examples of four different GreyNet graphs.

Chapter 5 focuses on the Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) and the endeavor of over sixty contributing institutions to market the grey literature within their ASFA database. ASFA partnered with external organizations such as WorldFish and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center’s Aquaculture Department to promote grey literature through outreach activities at each stage of the grey literature life cycle. Outreach activities include promotional materials, training sessions and materials, and seminars. The chapter highlights the successful implementation of these activities, guides libraries in supporting authors uploading material to ASFA, and offers steps for libraries in creating their own strategy and outreach activities to promote grey literature.

Finally, chapter 6 addresses the impact of digital transformation (DX) on the management and sustainability of grey literature. Some of the impacts on grey literature by DX are increasing researcher awareness and growing access to resources because of new technology. The chapter applies the “Five V’s model of big data” (variety, volume, veracity, velocity, and value of information) to the nature of grey literature. The chapter identifies the need and offers solutions for organizations to adapt to emerging new technologies because technology outpaces an organization’s information management. This adaptation brings substantial change to the information management profession by changing the competencies and skills required to manage and sustain grey literature. The chapter concludes with the nature of grey literature as constantly changing, which requires it to be readily available, retrievable, usable, valuable, and sustainable for companies to remain competitive. It highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for people working with technology to adapt quickly and acquire new skills and competencies for the digital transformation of grey literature to be successful.

Managing Grey Literature successfully encompasses the life cycle of technical services, from selecting and weeding materials, establishing local cataloging practices, making them discoverable, and managing and preserving them through digital means. This format makes it easy to navigate the process by which grey literature could become part of a library’s collection. The usage of tables and graphics was generally helpful, except in one instance where the questions asked on the survey were on one page and tallied survey results were on the reverse, making it difficult to understand the results. This book is recommended for any organization wanting to incorporate grey literature within its collection.—Cynthia A. Romanowski (cromanowski@govst.edu), Governors State University, University Park, Illinois


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