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This research investigated management and use of grey literature in academic libraries in Niger State. The purpose of it is to identify types of grey literature, examine methods of acquisition, processing, preservation and utilisation. In addition, to ascertain management challenges and strategies for improvement. Research questions were formulated based on seven points of the purposes. A descriptive survey research design was used for the study. One hundred and two (102) librarians (professional and paraprofessional) from Federal University of Technology, Minna, IBB University, Lapai, Federal College of Education, Kontagora, Niger State College of Education, Minna, Federal Polytechnic, Bida, and Niger State Polytechnic, Zungeru constituted the population. The entire population was used. There was no sampling because the sample size was manageable. The instruments for data collection were structured questionnaire, interview schedule and observation checklist. Documentary evidences in the area of grey literature formed the basis for construction of these instruments.  The instruments were face validated by three senior researchers in the field of Library and Information Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The research instruments were administered directly by the researcher. In analyzing the data collected, frequency table and mean score were used for the questionnaire and checklist, while the interview was presented in prose narrative form substantiating information obtained from questionnaire. The findings revealed that appreciable size and variety of grey literature resources are available in most libraries but proper management is where problems lie. The major methods of acquisition are donation/gift and standing order deposit for staff. Classification is the main method through which grey literature is processed, while cataloguing, indexing and abstracting are neglected in most cases. It was also found out that the major methods employed by most of the libraries for preserving grey literature are the use of shelves with labels and vertical files collection with content descriptions. The popular access points are print lists and shelf guides. Some of the challenges encountered with the management and accessing of grey literature resources in the area include lack of national bibliography for grey literature, as well as unwillingness of originating bodies to release copies of documents which topped the list. Strategies itemized for improving management of grey literature resources include; provision of national bibliography, policy statements and adequate fund for acquisition and digitization of the resources. Based on these, the study recommends for the provision of a national bibliography for grey literature, good policy statements for acquisition and use of grey literature, digitization of the resources, as well as government/institutions/libraries voting adequate fund for acquisition of grey literature, especially electronic resources.



Background of the Study

            Gyasi (2003) defines literature in its broad sense as ‘anything that is written’, while Rees (2007) sees it in the narrow sense of ‘writing which expresses and communicate thought, feelings and attitudes towards life. Literature is thus summed up as permanent expression(s) in words (written or spoken), especially arranged in pleasing and accepted pattern or forms. In an information generating society, written literature in various forms is generated on daily basis by individuals, corporate bodies, academic institutions, e.t.c. Many of these are either unconventionally published or not published but exist and are used frequently. These forms can be appropriately termed grey (or gray) literature.

The earliest authorities in the area of grey literature such as Chilag (1982) and Wood (1984), defined grey literature as all categories of unconventionally published material. On the other hand, Auger (1989) sees it as semi-published literature which is not formally listed or priced, but is nevertheless in circulation. Collectively the term covers an extensive range of materials that cannot be found easily through conventional channels such as publishers, but which are frequently original and usually recent. According to Alberani (1990), grey literature publications are non-conventional, fugitive and often ephemeral. The Third International Conference on Grey Literature (ICGL) held in Luxembourg in 1997, as reported in Aina (2000), unanimously came up with the definition of grey literature as that information material which is produced by government, academics, business and industries both in print and electronic formats but which is not controlled by commercial publishing interests and where publishing is not the primary activity of the organisation. Weintraub (2010) adopts the pattern of ICGL Luxembourg and refers to grey literature as publications issued by government, academia, business, and industry, in both print and electronic formats, but not controlled by commercial publishing interests, and where publishing is not the primary business activity of the organisation. Hirtle (1991) identifies grey literature as the quasi-printed reports, unpublished but circulated papers, unpublished proceedings of conferences, printed programs from conferences, and the other non-unique material, which seem to constitute the bulk of our modern manuscript collections.  

In the context of this study, grey literature may be defined as recorded information resources of various  media and format, that are unconventionally or semi-conventionally published and often not formally listed or priced or available through normal bookselling channels. For clear understanding and distinguishing of grey literature from other types of literature in this study, the following characteristics of grey literature elucidated by Omeje (2010) are adopted:

i-                   They are unconventionally published.

ii-    They are not usually available through the conventional sources of book supply.

iii-   They are not covered by secondary bibliographic services such as indexes,   abstracts and bibliographies.  

iv-  They are difficult to find and acquire.

v-     They contain original information (i.e. they are primary sources of information).

The University of New South Wales (UNE) Home Library (2012) contends that the term grey literature is often attached to the research that is either unpublished or has been published in non-commercial form which include: government reports, policy statements and issues papers, conference proceedings, pre-prints and post-prints of articles, theses and dissertations, research reports, market reports, working papers, geological and geophysical surveys, maps, newsletters and bulletins and, fact sheets. It identifies academics, postgraduate students, government agencies, professional associations, pressure groups, private companies, and research institutes as some of the sources of grey literature. In recent years, technical and scientific literature has continued to grow. The grey literature reports now come from many different avenues. The following types of organizations issue grey literature: associations, churches (including Mosques), county councils, educational establishments, federations, institutes, institutions, laboratories, libraries, museums, private publishers, research establishments, societies, trade unions, trusts and universities. This list has been copied directly from Charles Augur (1989) seminal book, Information Sources in grey literature (page 22).

According to Alberani (1990), grey literature publications include but are not necessarily limited to the following types of materials: reports (pre-prints, preliminary progress and advanced reports, technical reports, statistical reports, memoranda, state-of-the art reports, market research reports), theses, conference proceedings, technical specifications and standards, non-commercial translations, bibliographies, technical and commercial documentation, and official documents not published commercially; primarily government reports and documents. Others are consultancy reports, annual reports, panel reports, seminar or workshop reports, pamphlets, handouts, students/staff’s project works e.t.c. Scientific grey literature comprises newsletters, reports, working papers, theses, government documents, bulletins, fact sheets, conference proceedings and other publications distributed free, available by subscription, or for sale at a token price.

An increasingly important source of grey literature is the institutional repositories on web being created by universities world-wide. Most institutional repositories collect grey literature written by academics at their institutions. Electronic communication is changing the notion of grey literature which is expanding to include e-mails, faxes, blog postings, wikis and podcasts (HLwiki, 2012). An increasing amount of grey literature is now available on the Web in the form of Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents. This means that it is relatively easy to find recent grey literature using a simple Google search. Weintraub (2010) referred to earlier also observed that in today’s electronic information environment, the Internet has become a major source for dissemination and retrieval of grey literature and often serves as a user’s initial introduction to a topic area. He notes further that well designed Web sites give users access to a body of digitally produced grey literature that complements the existing body of print materials, and that such web sites are a major source of information retrieval and dissemination such that there is a growing acceptance of references to relevant Web sites in scholarly papers and journal articles.  

Grey literature materials are valuable information resources. One of the values of grey literature is its immense value of being a primary source of information. In other words the information contained in it is original (i.e. directly from the originator-producer). Grey literature, as highlighted by Kwafo-Akato (1988), contains information which is vital in a nation’s socio-economic plan. A report to document the findings of a small survey on the availability of academic grey literature to Small And Medium Sized Enterprises in the UK (SMEs) made the key finding that SMEs require grey literature for practical benefits like using resources and university facilities as well as training opportunities and scouting for potential recruits. (JISC Scholarly Communications Report, 2008). Grey literature is often the best source of up-to-date research on certain topics, such as rural poverty or the plight of homeless people in Sydney. (The UNE Home Library, 2012).

Grey literature may be of questionable relevance or quality but may still have an impact on research, teaching and learning especially in tertiary institution of study (The wiki index, 2011), So much of it is highly intellectual and is significant for research and development in many subject areas. According to Aina (1994) and Auger (1998) studies have revealed that many researchers in basic and applied science use a high proportion of grey literature. They  go further to state that over the years, grey literature has come to constitute a section of publications ranking in importance with journals, books, and serials. Among other reasons cited for this are its greater speed and flexibility of dissemination.

Grey literature has manifestly been a very important means of communication. Augur (1989) recalls that ‘‘Grey literature was for many years synonymous with reports literature. At the turn of the 21st century, documents coming out of research and development, particularly from the aircraft and aeronautics industries, were a very important means of communicating the results of research testing’’. White (1984) observes that the hallmark of the Second World War was the development of technologically-advanced weaponry, from sophisticated tanks to the atomic bomb. These breakthroughs in science made accurate and speedy communications a necessity. The technical report was then widely used to disseminate information. The one thing that made grey literature so attractive and enabled it to attain its importance as a separate medium of communication was an initial need for security or confidentiality of information which prevent documents being published in the conventional manner.

The importance of grey literature lies in its ability to communicate complex information in simple terms and to disseminate results more quickly. Much of the grey literature is derivative and designed to make technical material or research findings easily understood by a lay audience. For example, policy briefs, issue briefs, and fact sheets are often produced by summarizing more technical reports. They are also a way for organisations to get results out to their target audience more quickly. Grey literature has long-term value, particularly because it provides policy context and implications that may not be found in the published literature. In fact, advisory committee members of United State National Library of Medicine believe that the value of grey literature is at par with that of traditional published literature (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2008). Grey literature often is used to establish historical documentation. The progress of a document from draft to its finished form can sometimes be as valuable as the finished product, and the various drafts of a document can fill in gaps in the historical record.

Grey literature provides citizens with the information they require to make decisions about their lives and the societies in which they live. Whether individuals are taking a trip, conducting a study, buying an appliance, treating an illness, repairing machinery, joining an archaeological dig or a host of other activities that they experience as part of their daily lives, grey literature will continue to serve as a source of information that is consulted most often (Mukhtar, 2009). Grey literature that is more desirable in print such as handbooks, repair manuals, consumer product ratings, tourist guides, and other resources that we usually take with us and consult on a regular basis, are likely to continue being issued in print format as long as the demand exists. Weintraub (2010) argues 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. It is now 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. Apparently, effective and efficient management of these resources is what is now required.

Aina (2004) defines management as a concern mainly with the human and material resources, activities and tasks of an organisation. He stressed that the overall objective in the management of organisation is to produce the best result within the resources available to the organisation. Management in this study means acquisition (collection), processing (registering, accessioning, organising) preserving and dissemination of grey literature resources in libraries. Organising here involves cataloguing, classifying, indexing and abstracting of grey literature.

A library is a collection of books as well as non-book materials organised systematically to ease access. Arua (1997) defines library as ‘‘a collection of books and related materials housed, organized for access and made available for use.’’ Apparently, there are different types of libraries performing different functions according to their types, such as the academic, school, public, private and special libraries.

            Academic generally refers to issues pertaining to educational institutions; primary, secondary or tertiary level. Strictly, it is limited only to the affairs of tertiary institutions such as universities, colleges of educations, polytechnics and other post-secondary schools. Based on these the term ‘‘academic library’’ refers to libraries of tertiary institutions such as universities, colleges of education, polytechnics, e.t.c. Similarly, Ekere (2010) describes academic library as any library attached to post secondary or tertiary institutions.

The main purpose of academic libraries is to support the actulisation of the objectives of the institutions they serve. Consequently, university library is to support the objectives of the university, which is to promote teaching, learning, research and community services.   College libraries are expected to support the major objectives of the college, which is to provide instructional materials that support training of highly skilled middle-level manpower. The services of academic libraries broadly are: user education (orientation/ instruction) services for the users; inter-library loan/ connection services by organising library network to ensure users having enough materials; abstracting and indexing services to enable users identify and locate materials relevant to their work; bibliographic services to enable users locate library materials easily and quickly; cataloguing services to enable users identify and locate library collections; reference services to assist users in searching for and retrieving appropriate/ required materials; information services to users who require information for meeting their needs; and circulation services, which comprise services such as users registration, charging and discharging, shelf guide/marks, bindery, photocopying/reprographic, library displays, computer/online services and, current awareness services (CAS). These services are provided with the use of information resources including literature in various fields of interest among which is grey literature.

However, some general problems with management of grey literature should be discussed. Grey literature resources are produced in high number in Nigerian tertiary institutions, governmental and non-governmental organisations but yet, they are in limited circulation even within the institutions where they are produced. This may be as a result of incapability of libraries of such institutions in making available grey literature. However, the incapability of libraries in making available grey literature may have link with the nature of grey literature production and accessibility. Since grey literature is published largely by people or organisations who do not have publishing as their primary activity, such catalogues showing particular items produced over a particular period of time are usually non-existent. Grey literature is historically difficult to identify because much of it is unindexed or unpublished (often both), and it is often locked deep within the ‘hidden or invisible’ web (Hlwiki, 2012). Grey literature should be a resource offered and sought on a far wider scale but the nub is discoverability. The major problem militating against acquisition of grey literature is where to locate their producers to subscribe and maintain the subscription.

Grey literature resources are mostly presented in substandard formats; this does not mean that they are substandard but the necessary technical detail of publishing for cataloguing and classifying library materials are lacking. The result is that such materials rarely receive proper treatment in the library. This obviously has implications for their storage, organisation and accession. Attached to the management challenges is the problem of fund constraints and management/staff’s attitudinal problem. Many libraries are inadequately funded, this does not warrant expenses incurred in making available and managing grey literature resources. Even Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that do buy journals are severely restricted because they can’t afford to buy as many as they would like (JISC Scholarly Communications Report, 2008). Although some grey literature resources are freely available in our society, the associated expenses in acquiring them are not catered for in most libraries.

In Nigeria, there are archival centres at federal and state levels designated to the collection of archival records emanating from their localities. Although this effort is quite commendable but management practices is what is then questionable. The collections here should have been properly managed, and these centres should have keep in touch with academic institutions/libraries within their locations for symbiotic benefits, because majority of scholarly grey literature resides at tertiary institutions. But the reality is that there are no connections among these sectors and this invariably affects the use of grey literature resources in Nigeria. For example, projects, thesis, dissertations, conference/technical papers and communiqués are generated year in year out in Nigerian tertiary institutions but there no proper channels of liking these with major users. Findings of projects like this should be communicated to the studied area for the benefit of them. In Nigerian, there should be a body coordinated by Ministry of Education or National Library of Nigeria, with the purpose of reviewing the projects produced in tertiary institutions within the country, repackaging them and linking them with major users, but this system is not in place.

With regards to grey literature management, academic libraries in Nigeria are perhaps left behind when compared with their overseas counterparts. While a majority of scholarly grey literature resides at tertiary institutions in Nigeria, collection and management practices of the academic libraries of these institutions are questionable. The research conducted by Omeje (1997) on the availability and management of grey literature for agricultural research in Nigerian university libraries discovered poor availability of grey resources in Nigeria university libraries. Moreover, there is no reliable method for the acquisition, processing and preservation of grey literature resources. Few libraries give full cataloguing and provide subject access entries for grey resources. This situation may not be far fetching from what exist in academic libraries in Niger state. The six academic libraries of the popular tertiary institutions in Niger state, namely; FUT, Minna, IBB University, Lapai, FCE, Kontagora, COE, Minna, Federal Polytechnic, Bida and State Polytechnic, Zungeru are expected to have sizeable number of grey literature materials to satisfy the demand of their clients who produce and demand high part of the materials. If this is the case, proper management of grey literature in this area is paramount.

Statement of the Problem

Grey literature communicates complex information in simple terms and disseminates results more quickly. It is designed in some cases, to make technical material or research findings easily understood by a lay audience. For example, policy briefs, issue briefs, and fact sheets are often produced by summarizing more technical reports and providing context. Grey literature has the potential to complement and communicate findings to a wider audience. Grey Literature has an impact in research, teaching and learning mostly done in institutions where academic libraries situated. It is occasionally the only source of information for specific research questions. Researchers use grey literature as a resource to support their research, as well as to identify funding priorities. Grey literature resources are issued and used by academic and non academic staff of tertiary institutions, and students alike, for communication, interaction, and framework for writing research and also as a means of communicating findings to the audience. In this regard, the need for effective management of grey literature in these academic libraries is imperative as it is the only way of facilitating access and use of grey resources that support research, teaching, learning and services in these institutions.

The dangers of poor management and use of grey literature resources is felt from its importance as a medium of complementing and communicating research findings to a wider audience. The universities and colleges activities may be hampered as a result of poor management of these important resources.

Regrettably, poor management of grey resources in the academic libraries elsewhere has created an information gap between the researchers and end users thereby limiting the communication and use of research findings. Similarly, los of primary sources of information, a break in interconnection of material publication, los of history of production that cannot be encompassed in the published copy, denying of social interactions and academic exchange of ideas are likely dangers posed by poor management of grey literature. There is a tendency that these dangers are felt in the tertiary institutions in Nigeria, with particular reference to Niger state institutions. Regrettably, a study that investigates this situation in academic libraries in Niger state has not been carried out at this particular period as it was done in other geographical areas of Nigeria. It is in this regard, that the study intends to investigate the management of grey literature in academic libraries in Niger state, Nigeria.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the management and use of grey literature in academic libraries in Niger state. Specifically, the study attempts to:

        i.            Identify types of grey literature provided for management in academic libraries in Niger state.

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