This is big.

The New York Times weighs in:

It may be only a step on a long road toward the long-predicted global

virtual library. But the collaboration of Google and research institutions that also include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library is a major stride in an ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is to expand the Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of material and create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world’s books, scholarly papers and special collections.

Google – newly wealthy from its stock offering last summer – has agreed to underwrite the projects being announced today while also adding its own technical abilities to the task of scanning and digitizing tens of thousands of pages a day at each library.