The Google Books project (just today pared down a bit) always impressed me with its sheer scope. Offering modern e-books is all well and good, but that’s more of a business problem. It’s the scanning and free availability of thousands upon thousands of old books that struck me as a worthwhile endeavor.

But publishers and booksellers have been wary of the service, knowing that Google is a fan of free, and their scan-first, ask-permission-later strategy caused some consternation as well. And while access to all that knowledge is appreciated, it is lost on no one that the data is in the hands of a for-profit company.

Enter the Digital Public Library of America, which aims to create a similar catalog of works, but both more comprehensive and unimpeded by commercial motives. It’s been in the works for a while, but it seems it may finally launch as early as…

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