Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Winter 1998

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Conference Reports

STS Publisher/Vendor Relations Discussion Group: Summary of MidWinter ALA Presentation, January 10, 1998

Notes from the speaker:
Dominic John Farace
Director, TransAtlantic|GreyNet
Grey Literature Network Service


Thank you for this opportunity to attend and address your discussion group on science publishing. Special thanks to Julia Gelfand from the University of California, Irvine Campus for putting me in contact with your chairperson Susan Starr.

In November 1997, the term grey literature was redefined at the Third International Conference on Grey Literature, GL'97. The revised definition has come to be known as "The Luxembourg Convention," after the city in which this conference was held. The definition of grey literature now reads: "that which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business, and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers."

Grey literature differs from commercial publications in that it is not based solely or even principally on an economic model, but rather on a communication model. Otherwise stated, all aspects of commercial publishing apply to grey literature, but its existence is not determined merely by dollars and cents.

In the grey circuit, end-users remain the consumers of information, intermediaries continue in their intermediate roles, but the publishers come to be recognized as "corporate authors." These corporate authors, operating on all levels of government, academics, business, and industry have a publishing function; however, this is not their primary mission or activity. In fact many of these corporate authors are only recently becoming aware of their publishing role. This awareness has in part been brought on by the Internet. And from my experience with these producers of grey literature, they like their new role as well as the status it holds.

This is indeed a fortunate development, for according to the Keynote Speaker at GL'97, Prof. John Mackenzie Owen, the commercial publishing industry is at its end. With the increase of costs, their slowness to move, their many restrictions to access, and their disregard for archiving, the end-users are experiencing a decrease in value added by commercial publishers. As a consequence, all information in the future will be characterized as grey.

Publishing printed and electronic grey literature is now seen by its producers, the corporate authors, for what it has come to embody, namely the state-of-the-art, the cutting edge, current information, issued by the source, open to the public, not controlled solely for commercial gain.

Grey Literature Network Service
Koninginneweg 201, 1075 CR Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel/Fax: 31-20-671.1818
E-mail: greynet@inter.nl.net
URL {http://www.konbib.nl/infolev/greynet/}
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