Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)

At the AIIP Conference this year, a Customer Relations Trainer held back-to-back sessions on the day set aside for vendor training and returned very pleased with her experiences with both the conference and the conferees she met there.

PsycINFO staff are fortunate in that we get to attend a number of different conferences over the course of the year while giving presentations, moderating or attending meetings, holding industry discussions, and staffing booths. These experiences are invaluable, as we not only get to stretch our own wings a bit, but we also get to hear new speakers, see new products, and meet and talk with information professionals from all around the world. Like a fresh stream feeding a river, all of those experiences add to the flow of ideas and products that come from APA.

Though each conference has something about it that we particularly appreciate, there's something really delightful about the smaller ones. APA for the past several years has been sending a representative to several of those more intimate gatherings. One is the AIIP Conference, which was held in Vancouver, Washington this year. Anne Breitenbach, a Customer Relations Trainer, held back-to-back sessions on Thursday, April 7, the day set aside for vendor training, and returned very pleased with her experiences with both the conference and the conferees she met there.

In the event you're not familiar with AIIP, a little background information: AIIP is described on its webpage as "the premier industry association for independent information professionals." AIIP is different from most of the other conferences we attend in its higher percentage of attendees who are not librarians. Members are primarily business owners who specialize in using their expertise in finding, managing, applying, and communicating information and who pursue their calling with "an entrepreneurial spirit."

Anyone may join AIIP as an associate member, but the one criterion to be a full member is that one be the owner (or at least 25% owner) of a business that provides information services. Though AIIP members include researchers, they also wear a fascinating variety of other hats. They are consultants, policy wonks, writers, and — well, almost anything else you can imagine. Indeed, Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe would have qualified to be members.

These are people who frequently work on their own and by their own wits and resources. Yet one of the determining characteristics of them as a group is their collaborative spirit. As Ulla de Stricker, one of the conference co-chairs, reported, "our members are a tribe…AIIP members have the gene of supporting each other." They are generous with their time and ideas, facts made very evident in their email list, per Ulla, "an incredibly useful" resource. Members share opinions, sources, and innovations, and they crowd source for ideas and suggestions.

The opportunity to connect face to face with similarly situated colleagues is particularly valuable for professionals who frequently work solo. Thus, the AIIP conference is an important hub for networking. The 2011 meeting was the 25th annual AIIP conference. As all AIIP conferences have been, it was intimate, with just over 100 attendees, including 33 first timers. The quality of the programs was outstanding, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers who put the conference together.

Yet much of the "action" of the conference was in the conversations and networking of the members themselves. That was evident from the animated conversations in the hallways and exhibit rooms, as the members exchanged all kinds of information and impressions.

What can APA provide that is valuable to this group? PsycINFO tries hard to match its trainings to its audience. For AIIP, the need was a presentation with two main points of focus. First, we wanted to stress the multidisciplinary nature of APA's content and the variety of authoritative data we can provide to business-oriented information professionals. For example, the attendees to this training included a person setting up a new small mental health library, one with an accounting business, one doing drug research, one working with genealogy, and several people interested in the process of decision-making. We were able to run searches and find information that was relevant to each of those interests. Second, as most of these people need an efficient, simple, and affordable way to access the information they want when they want it, we focused on showing them ways to access the data that would be responsive to those needs. We highlighted tools that make searching easier, automating search strategies, and short-term access programs.

Our thanks to the gregarious, welcoming, and fascinating participants of the AIIP 2011 conference! If you'd like to see the presentation, please access our presentation archive.