I have long supported Google's rights to conduct widespread scanning of the books in major academic library collections. Google's arguments on fair use grounds are strong, as Judge Denny Chin affirmed in 2013.
To my mind the arguments from the Authors Guild about copyright infringement were spurious and short sighted. Google posts snippets of in-copyright works, leading to new markets for generally obscure texts. This is very much biting the hand that feeds you.
And yet...and yet. There IS something unsettling about Google--a commercial entity with commercial aims--assuming this responsibility for digitizing such a prime piece of our cultural heritage. Google can claim it does no evil, but it does want to get rich.
And so, now that James Billington has announced his retirement as the Director of the Library of Congress, we have a moment. LC is better than Google, and LC should be leading this effort. Over the next weeks and months I'll be writing more about this. Dr. Billington retires in January, there is time to make the case.