Grey literature for the Third Sector

by Denise Bonin Wednesday, October 13, 2010 10:52 AM

Grey literature, fugitive publications, the hidden web; it sounds all very mysterious doesn’t it? threeSOURCE-logoWhere are these resources? How can they be found? Well for the folks in Alberta – and because it is on the Internet, for the rest of the world – this previously concealed material in the non-profit and social services “third” sector now has a home at threeSOURCE: http://www.threesource.ca. See the press release here.

Database

The database that forms the basis of the site contains a vast quantity of grey literature from groups such as the Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta Status of Women Action Committee, Family Service Association of Edmonton, Calgary Status of Women Action Committee, and Families First Edmonton. It also contains the ESPC catalogue collection, which during the course of the project was converted from another system, L4U, using the MARC Transformer, into Inmagic DB/TextWorks.

Jennifer Hoyer from the Edmonton Social Planning Councilspearheaded this new website with funding assistance from Alberta Culture and Community Spirit and the Edmonton Community Foundation.

“There is currently no central location, either physically or virtually, for accessing publications created within or about this field of work.  People working within the third sector – in social services and nonprofits – are notoriously short on time when it comes to finding information and staying current within their field.  ThreeSOURCE hopes to make this process easier by presenting a one-stop-shop,” writes Jennifer.

Website

Andornot assisted with almost every aspect of this site, from the recommendation of Artisteer as the basis for the website graphic design, which Jennifer took to enthusiastically, to the deployment of the site on the ESPC server. Our team integrated the website design into the ASP.NET based Umbraco Content Management System. We set Jennifer up with the desktop interface of the Andornot Starter Kit so she could catalogue grey literature while we developed the web interface. This included the database component, which consisted of the quick and advanced search screens, brief displays, a full display, Google book covers, a RSS feed for the latest database additions, and the Email, Save, and Print components. The web catalogue uses Inmagic WebPublisher PRO as the underlying search engine.

Content Management System

Once the website was up and running on our development server with Umbraco, Jennifer could login through a web browser and start adding website content to the site. Andornot put the final touches to the site, such as a link to their newsletter sign in and an RSS feed from the database and then moved the whole site over to the ESPC server.

“One of the key features of this audience is that they generally access and share information in a very social way: they discuss the latest developments in their field over coffee with colleagues, and they share new publications with their email contacts,” writes Jennifer. “We wanted to replicate this social aspect in some manner, and the RSS feed of New Acquisitions is a starting point for engaging our audience beyond the library catalogue interface.”

Topic Searches

Using Umbraco, Jennifer is able to quickly add new canned or topic searches to the home page, which can be based on recent requests for information or hot topics. To illustrate, Jennifer writes:

“We were recently approached for information regarding affordable housing solutions for seniors, to support a proposal for a related project.  A quick search of subjects such as “Seniors” and “Housing – affordable housing solutions” brought up the Wellesley Institute’s recent report on Precarious Housing in Canada (2010) and the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies Analysis of housing for seniors living with disabilities using a livable and inclusive community lens (2009).  The former provides federal government funding allocations towards housing for low-income seniors.  The latter identifies affordability as a top major housing issue faced by seniors and seniors with disabilities, and pointed towards other publications confirming the urgent nature of this issue.”

She promptly added a link to all the items in the database on the topic Housing for Seniors after receiving that request for information. We are sure that the page will soon fill up with links to other relevant topics as they are determined, making the finding of relevant information in the third sector so much easier.

Congratulations to the Edmonton Social Planning Councilon the launch of this valuable resource.  Contact us for more information on project specifics. 

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