Report to IFLA: Grey Literature: Scholarly Communication in a Digital World Satellite Meeting

**This report on the joint SOCRS and National Libraries Section 2019 Satellite Conference has been provided for the IFLA Governing Board.**

By Meg Mering

Grey Literature: Scholarly Communication in a Digital World Satellite Meeting

Sponsored by: IFLA Serials and Other Continuing Resources Section 

Co-sponsored by: IFLA National Libraries Section 

Date: August 23, 2019 (9:00 am to 5:00 pm) 

Venue: National Library of Greece, SMFCC: Stavros Niarchos Foundation Athens, Greece 

The Internet has dramatically altered how grey literature is defined. The importance, the availability, the access, and the types of grey literature have significantly increased since the days of keeping pamphlets and newspaper clippings in a vertical file. Deciding if a resource is commercially published or if it is grey literature has become more complex and requires judgement. Knowledge of a field of study is helpful in knowing where to find or to gain insight into grey literature. This satellite addressed how libraries and others are meeting the challenges of grey literature.

The satellite meeting consisted of presentations, breakout sessions and a tour of the library. The planning committee accepted fourteen program proposals to be present at the meeting.  Eleven of them presented at the satellite meeting. To date, nine presenters have submitted papers, which now are part of the IFLA Library. In addition, the three presenters who were unable to attend the satellite meeting for unforeseen reasons also submitted papers. 

The meeting kicked off with a welcome from the Director of the National Library of Greece, after which the attendees were introduced to digital deposit in Japan and a fascinating look at theses and dissertations as grey literature in Brazil, with a focus on accessibility, identification and sharing.  The presentations covered many aspects of grey literature, including the changing nature of library collections and the roles of equity, diversity and inclusion. Alongside that, participants got some insight into the practical aspects of handling grey literature in national libraries in Belgium and Iran, what it means and how it is managed.

This was followed by the first breakout session.  The question of what is grey literature resonated with attendees and this question received the most attention during the breakout session. We had heard a presentation that suggested electronic theses and dissertations may no longer be grey literature due to their ready availability through university repositories, we later heard how emojis may be part social media-generated grey literature – needless to say there is a lot of debate over this question. Also: data. Several attendees recommended thinking of grey literature differently and specifically as including data sets, or “grey data.”  Traditional definitions of grey literature still held true for many of the attendees as well.

Further sessions explored the results of a study on grey literature in the English-speaking Caribbean and introduced attendees to the value in making research projects – not just research outputs available, as well as to the ideas behind Open Innovation.  Participants were intrigued to see all the places where Grey Literature turns up – including the high profile Belt and Road Initiative – as well as to be reminded that controlled vocabulary is possibly more important than ever.

In the final breakout session, attendees overwhelmingly agreed that good metadata is the key to ensuring the discovery of grey literature. Description and integration into the systems used by patrons to discover other sources is critical but does not always happen when materials are added to collections. This includes cataloging, inclusion of grey literature in integrated library systems, as well as linking to related resources such as datasets. Additionally, others suggested that ensuring interlibrary loan staff know how to find grey literature, and that producers of grey literature have some responsibility for following good practices -so publications are easier to describe and access.

The planning committee included Meg Mering (SOCRS), Ted Westervelt (SOCRS), Sharron Dyas-Correia (SOCRS), Andrea Wirth (SOCRS), Chris McCawley (SOCRS), Genevieve Clavel (National Libraries), and Evi Stefani (National Library of Greece).

Forty-one people attended the satellite meeting. All but one of them also attended the main Congress. 

Prepared by: Meg Mering, Immediate Past Chair of SOCRS