The paper aims to investigate the impact of the open access movement on the document supply of grey literature. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on a comparative survey of five major scientific and technical information centres: The British Library (UK), KM (Canada), INIST-CNRS (France), KISTI (South Korea) and TIB Hannover (Germany).
The five institutions supplied less than 1.8 million supplied items in 2014, i.e. half of the activity in 2004 (−55 per cent). There were 85,000 grey documents, mainly conference proceedings and reports, i.e. 5 per cent of the overall activity, a historically low level compared to 2004 (−72 per cent). At the same time, they continue to expand their open access strategies. Just as in 2004 and 2008, these strategies are specific, and they reflect institutional and national choices rather than global approaches, with two or three common or comparable projects (PubMed Central, national repositories, attribution of DOIs to datasets, dissertations and other objects). In spite of all differences, their development reveals some common features, like budget cuts, legal barriers (copyright), focus on domestic needs and open access policies to foster dissemination and impact of research results.
Document supply for corporate customers tends to become a business-to-business service, while the delivery for the public sector relies more, than before, on resource sharing and networking with academic and public libraries. Except perhaps for the TIB Hannover, the declining importance of grey literature points towards their changing role – less intermediation, less acquisition and collection development and more high-value services, more dissemination and preservation capacities designed for the scientific community needs (research excellence, open access, data management, etc.).
The paper is a follow-up study of two surveys published in 2006 and 2009.