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Julian Aiken, Yale Law Library

Julian was a hilarious speaker.

Every librarian ought to be allowed to muck around with a brilliant but rummy idea.  “When we aim for the stars, we tend to bonk our heads on the ceiling.”  He proposed automated materials sorting but was denied.  He proposed barcoding his dog and checking the dog out.  He wanted to take a look at how others achieve their moments of brilliance.  “When in doubt, cheat, copy, steal, and pillage..”  If you’re snooping around for brilliance and innovation, there’s one place to go – the creators of the deep-fried Snickers bar.  So he went to Google instead for what they do.  Where does the 1% inspiration come from?  Google has their 80/20 innovation model, which has produced Google News, Gmail, and the Google shuttle buses.  This model encourages Google employees to spend 20% of their time on projects that speak to their personal interests and passions.  His immediate bosses are splendid individuals that were willing to give this model a try.  Achieving institutional buy-in for an 80/20 model can be hard.  A commonly raised objection has been that in financially tight times, it’s difficult or even irresponsible to take staff away from their core duties.  The Google Innovation model provides libraries an opportunity to reward deserving staff.  Unscrupulous institutions award promotions, awards, and bigger offices in the place of cash.  With the Google model, they’re rewarded with a variety of work that they care about, and ultimately make the workplace a pleasant and happier environment.  Is necessity truly the mother of invention?  He listed several inventions from World War II that had the audience rolling.  And then there was a pantomime horse – two ends, both alike in dignity – meant to represent different departments in a library able to work together respectfully.  He works at the Beinecke Library at Yale.  The proposal for the Google 80/20 program resulted in a lot of cross-training in the library.  They have 6 staff in his department, 4 of whom are actively participating in the program.  It’s more like 90/10 though.  Some of the projects they’re working on: digitization, open access legal scholarship repository.  He is going to get his dog circulated at the library now too :)

“CIL 2011: Getting to the Eureka! Moment”

  1. Tim Says:

    Okay, maybe it’s early and I didn’t get to make my tea this morning (although I thought the same thing yesterday), but even though I’m a dog person and a “let’s try crazy stuff to see if we can learn anything” person… I don’t get the dog thing. From a humor or a theory or a PR standpoint… I just don’t get it.

  2. Tim Says:

    Now I get it. :) I thought he simply wanted to circ the dog to himself.

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