La letteratura grigia parlamentare: in margine a una nuova banca dati

Contenuto principale dell'articolo

Fernando Venturini


Parliamentary grey literature (PGL) can be defined as that found within the ambit of parliamentary institutions. There are three types of PGL: GL issued by the offices of the Chambers, GL presented by outside bodies for specific parliamentary procedures and GL produced by outside bodies and somehow used within the ambit of Parliament.

These classifications are quite broad. For example, we can say that a Study Service dossier (a collection of documentation and studies for a specific parliamentary discussion) is a typical internal PGL document, while external PGL embraces official documents, papers, statistics, government reports, memorandums and policy papers by the various public and private players.

What is the context of PGL? Parliament is at the heart of a very crowded documentation network which derives from the functions which the Constitution assigns to the two Chambers, from its role at the various moments of history within the political system and from the needs of the documentation structure within Parliament's bureaucratic apparatus. There are a considerable number of channels of information which have a specific legal basis in parliamentary regulations and in many laws. One can even draw up a sort of list of acts which create or assume a channel of information between parliamentary bodies and the outside world (government, public administrations and civil society). This set of regulations delineates a cognitive activity which can be summarised by three fundamental characteristics: it is decentralised in the peripheral bodies of parliamentary activity (standing commissions, bicameral commissions), increasingly specialised and, finally, also increasingly recurring and continuative.

There is also the organisational context of Parliament's documentation structures. These are significant in terms of human resources and materials, equipped as they are with impressive paper and computer files. The Chamber of Deputies has at least five such services (Study, Community relations, Budget, Library, Parliamentary information) at its disposition but, indirectly or with support functions, there is also the Information service, the General affairs office and the Control office of the General Secretary. It is obvious that this structure interacts with the outside world, i.e. with the documentation producers, with different logics.

All PGL documents catalogued (by the DOBIS-LIBIS system) are automatically and periodically transferred to the STAIRS database (information retrieval software shared with the Senate's computer system) called LEGO (Letteratura grigia online, Online grey literature). The document can still be found by the library's ordinary user in a database whose name and title authority files are the same as those of conventional publications. The TESEO thesaurus is used for semantic classification. TESEO is a classification language developed by a working group of the Senate and is common to all strictly Parliamentary data. The LEGO database would appear, at least in Europe, to be the first example of a PGL database. For this reason, the experience which led to its establishment may be of some interest and the perspectives for such an archive would appear, in time, to extend far beyond the function of mere support for Parliamentary documentation. The quality of the database will in any case depend on the efficiency of the PGL document transmission channels which have been brought into play and the capacity to create new such channels. As it is relatively easy to control the internal PGL, the quality level will obviously depend above all on the external PGL and it is this that will furnish the benchmark for ascertaining the degree to which the initial objectives of the project have been met.

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