One country has decided to provide better access to books for all its citizens. The National Library of Norway is planning to digitize all the books by the mid 2020s.
According to an announcement found on the National Library of Norway's web site at: http://www.nb.no/English/The-Digital-Library/What-is-being-digitized:
The National Library of Norway is digitizing its entire collection. The Norwegian Legal Deposit Act requires that all published content, in all media, be deposited with the National Library of Norway. The collection is also being expanded through purchases and gifts. The digital collection contains material dating from the Middle Ages up to the current day.
In parallel with digitizing of analogue material, the National Library of Norway is working to expand the scope of publications covered by legal digital deposit legislation. The Library wishes to receive the digital source of the publication and in this way expand collection’s digital content. The digitizing programme started in 2006. It is estimated that it will take 20–30 years for the entire collection to be digitized.
Anyone in Norway, as measured by their IP address, will be able to view all 20th-century works, even those still under copyright if the publisher agrees. Non-copyrighted works from all time periods will be available for download and will be able to be saved on the reader's hard drive, flash drive, or other media.
The National Library has stated they will continue to hold onto their physical collection in spite of the digitization efforts. Also, with books becoming machine readable which will not require a physical presence in the library, the authorities stated they will continue to encourage and promote the library as a physical meeting place. The library owns some rare collections of manuscripts, maps, posters, special books, photographs, and more, and will continue to make these available.
You can find many stories about this bold new Norwegian plan by starting on Google at https://www.google.com/#q=Norway+to+Digitize+All+Norwegian+Books.
I suspect this is the beginning of a major new trend. Libraries around the world are wrestling with major funding cuts. The quandary is how to better serve the public and yet do so with ever-decreasing budgets. Most libraries now realize that offering digital copies of books is far more cost effective than building larger and larger libraries and installing shelving, providing temperature and humidity controls, and all the other expenses involved with printed books. Libraries around the world probably will digitize their physical collections because of budget cuts. Readers, especially those who cannot easily travel to the physical library, will obviously benefit from the increased access.
Sadly, I cannot envision the same happening in the United States. The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers certainly would take legal action to block any U.S. actions that would be similar to the Norwegian plan. In the States, we are limited to a small percentage of English-language works accessible to our citizens, thanks to the efforts of groups like the Digital Public Library of America, Archive.org, and Google Books.