Looks like Google has some competition in the race to digitize the textual universe:

“If you were looking for Larry Page’s opposite, you would be hard pressed to find a better candidate than Robert ­Darnton. A distinguished historian and prize-winning author, a former Rhodes scholar and MacArthur fellow, a Chevalier in France’s Légion d’Honneur, and a 2011 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the 72-year-old Darnton is everything that Page is not: eloquent, diplomatic, and embedded in the literary establishment. If Page is a bull in a china shop, Darnton is the china shop’s proprietor.

But Darnton has one thing in common with Page: an ardent desire to see a universal library established online, a library that would, as he puts it, “make all knowledge available to all citizens.” In the 1990s he initiated two groundbreaking projects to digitize scholarly and historical works, and by the end of the decade he was writing erudite essays about the possibilities of electronic books and digital scholarship. In 2007 he was recruited to Harvard and named the director of its library system, giving him a prominent perch for promoting his dream. Although Harvard was one of the original partners in Google’s scanning scheme, Darnton soon became the most eminent and influential critic of the Book Search settlement, writing articles and giving lectures in opposition to the deal. His criticism was as withering as it was learned. Google Book Search, he maintained, was “a commercial speculation” that, under the liberal terms of the settlement, seemed fated to grow into “a hegemonic, financially unbeatable, technologically unassailable, and legally invulnerable enterprise that can crush all competition.” It would become “a monopoly of a new kind, not of railroads or steel, but of access to information.””