There is an excellent article in the Washington Post advocating that colleges and universities support Google Book Search:
The Books Google Could Open
By Richard Ekman
Tuesday, August 22, 2006; Page A15
This powerful tool will make less well-known written works or hard-to-find research materials more accessible to students, teachers and others around the world. Geography will not hinder a student’s quest to find relevant material. Libraries can help to revive interest in underused books. And sales of books would probably increase as a result.
Book Search comes at a time when college and university libraries are hard-pressed to keep up with the publishing and technology revolutions. Budgets are stretched, and libraries must now specialize and rely on interlibrary loans for books in other subjects.
Libraries, public, private, and academic are under enormous pressure to maintain extensive and up to date collections. At the same time people expect to find archival and out of print material. Space is at a premium, money is scarce, and the space on which a book sits is often worth more in dollars than the book itself. Google book search would extend collections without extending the physical space required to house them. It would make access to content and information easier, more universal, and egalitarian. All are worthy goals.
I live mostly in the USA, but I have a home in Ghana as well. This would be a super resource for students there, where books are often hard to come by. Access to the internet is still very limited. But there are many initiatives, local and global, working to change this. Thanks to former President Rawlings there has been extensive rural electrification. Telecommunications in Ghana are growing rapidly, and likely to reach people in Ghana, particularly rural Ghana, far sooner than easy access to large physical libraries.