The Google library scanning thing is old news in the blog newscycle, which means it’s time for reflection.
Joi Ito mentioned a conversation Ismail Serageldin related to him:
He told me a story about a fellow educator and librarian who was dismayed that students were only citing things that they could find on the Internet and were no longer using physical libraries. Ismail said that he disagreed. He told me that he felt that students using the Internet were correct and that it was the libraries that needed to make more material available online.
That’s pretty much what Google is doing, but the full text will only be online for things old enough to be in the public domain. I bet that when they get those first 70,000 books online in April that college professors will see a sharp uptick in references to books written before 1923. Too bad books after then are locked up by copyright, otherwise students would have access to authors that know that the USSR existed.