David says that Google's angle on snapping up library content is to prevent banner farmers from scanning it all in and wrapping AdSense around it.
That may be, but I can't help but think this is also a defensive move, based on leveraging one of the assets they have against Microsoft in the search war: Trust. Google still has a good enough reputation that some of the finest institutions in the world will trust their knowledge and assets to a publicly held company. That's astonishing, especially given the anti-corporate slant that a lot of universities have.
Google's canny to take advantage of that now, but I'm wondering if they'd be able to do the same thing a year from now. Interestingly, Microsoft's never been able to really have the trust of universities, because they went from being in a tech industry that was then still not respected to being a huge economic and cultural force that schools didn't trust. This, despite the fact that Microsoft still spends a lot more on research and shares more of its work with schools than Google does.