9 Chapter 9: Information Institutions and Professional Associations

9.1. Introduction

A profession is defined by several factors, such as the existence of a body of knowledge, types of training and level of qualifications, adherence to ethical values and professional code of conduct, professional institutions, and professional associations. Professional associations seek to promote and create awareness about the profession, support the interest of people working in the profession, define standards and define code of ethics, and provide training and education. Information institutions are organizations that provide information resources and services to the society in order to meet the educational, informational, cultural, or recreational needs of the public citizens (Allen, 1996). The main functions of information institutions include developing information collections, organizing information, providing information access, preservation of the collection, and adopting new technology to support information services. Since data, information, and knowledge are key to the knowledge-based economy and they are essential elements for people to make sound decisions in their everyday work and life routines, information institutions are playing extremely important roles in today’s information society.

Some of the traditional information institutions include libraries, archives, museums, documentation centers, K-12 schools, law firms, healthcare institutions, and government depositories. These institutions played critical roles in the advancement of knowledge, preservation of civilization, and upholding the mission of delivering accurate and reliable information to the public. According to ALA’s statistics reports (2019), there are approximately 116,867 libraries in the United States which are comprised of academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and special libraries (e.g., law libraries, hospital libraries, corporation libraries, etc.). In terms of their operational processes, some of the common characteristics among these information institutions include: collection development and maintenance, processing arrangement, cataloging, access/reference, weeding, preservation, and public and technology services.

Some of the nontraditional information institutions include document centers (e.g., Document Center.com), publishing houses (e.g., Taylor & Francis.com), data warehousing, database providers (e.g., Proquest.com), and abstracting and indexing corporations. These are institutions or part of institutions that provide information services in specialized areas or for specific types of users. Prior to the Internet, several information services in the form of databases were created to provide bibliographic access to publications with short abstracts. These are considered the first generation of information retrieval systems. Some of these services include the Dialog system started in 1966 by Lockheed Martin (Summit, 2002); the INSPEC system which was created as part of the Science Abstracts service in 1967 by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) and later by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET); and LexisNexis, originally known as Lexis, provides specialized legal information in the form of case laws, court documents, published legal papers and articles. LexisNexis started in 1956 (Hershey and Burke, 2017) and consider itself as a part of the information institutions. In Chapter 9, we aim to examine some representative examples of information institutions by reviewing their mission, history, roles, values and functions, services, and user groups. Furthermore, a series of professional associations are examined based on the types of information institutions.

When we study information institutions, it is necessary to take into account various variables that impact the nature of these institutions. These variables include “type of institution,” “funding sources,” and “user groups.” For example, the funding sources of “public libraries” are mainly from the federal, state, and local property tax allocation, so the services and collections provided by public libraries aim to meet the needs of various local user groups. However, with school libraries their funding sources are mainly from various schools, so school libraries’ programs and collections are emphasized on supporting faculty and students. Even though there are differences among these information institutions in terms of budget and staff sizes, all these information institutions employ professionally trained employees to conduct these daily operations and provide information services to users.

Information transfer includes a chain of activities, such as information creation, editing, publishing, indexing and abstracting, and organizing and preserving, as well as information sharing. Institutions performing these activities have been broadly grouped into three categories: (1) information creation institutions (e.g., R& D laboratories, higher education institutions), (2) information processing institutions (e.g., libraries, archiving institutions, museums); and (3) information dissemination institutions (e.g., publishing houses, information service corporations). Due to technology infusion and availability, there has been an overlapping function between all these institutions. In addition, these institutions have collaborated more frequently than in previous ages, so the functions of these institutions are expanding and the distinctions between these institutions in some cases are merging (Satyanarayanna, 2017).

9.2 Traditional Information Institutions

9.2.1 Libraries

Eberhart (2010) defined a library as a collection of information resources in a variety of formats that is organized systematically by information professionals. The fundamental duties of these information professionals include providing various types of access (e.g., physical, digital, intellectual access) to information sources and offering customized services and programs with the purposes of educating, informing, and entertaining different types of audiences. Until 2019, there were approximately 116,867 libraries in the United States which are comprised of academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and special libraries (e.g., law libraries, corporate libraries, hospital libraries, religious libraries, etc.) (American Library Association, 2019). Even though these different types of libraries enjoy their unique characteristics, these information institutions also share some common characteristics in terms of their operational processes which include collection development, processing arrangement, description/cataloging, access/reference, disposal/weeding, preservation, and technology. Academic Libraries

The American Library Association (2019) reported that there were 3096 academic libraries in the United States. This includes college/university libraries as well as community college libraries (libraries in two-year colleges). The core mission of academic libraries is to support the educational and research activities of their parent institutions through the provision of collections, services, programs, and user training. Historically, academic libraries have generally been designed as places to collect, access, and preserve print collections. In ancient times, academic libraries were not accessible to laypeople, only to serious scholars. In China, private collectors would open “academy” libraries to individuals studying for civil service during the sixth to the tenth centuries (Murray, 2009). Harvard University was founded in 1636 and was considered the oldest library in the United States from World War II (1939–1945) to the Cold War, government funding expanded to include new subject areas. The Baby Boomers generation entered colleges which greatly increased the student population and were a major user group of academic libraries. These factors greatly sped up the development of academic libraries. Overall, academic libraries are institutions to support learning, teaching, and research activities in higher education institutions for faculty, students, staff, alumni, etc. As May and Swabey (2015) discuss, modern and purposefully designed study spaces in academic libraries have been proven to foster student learning. Even though the main purposes of academic libraries remain steady, new issues emerge in users’ services and education due to the changing needs of the information society (e.g., maker space, data literacy, institutional repositories). Information professionals who work in academic libraries have job assignments, such as access services, acquisitions, administration, cataloging and classification, interlibrary loan, administration, etc. (Maatta, 2014). Public Libraries

There were 9087 public libraries in the United States according to the American Library Association (2019). The core mission of public libraries is to provide facilities, resources, and services in a variety of media and format to support formal and informal education, information literacy, economic development, and information needed for personal development which includes recreation and leisure (Clubb, 2017). Public libraries vary considerably in terms of size, resources, collections, services, complexity, etc. Some small public libraries only have one central library, but some large urban libraries have one central library and multiple branch libraries. The origin of public libraries dates back to 600 BC when Pisistratus founded the first public library in Athens. In 300 BC, the Library of Alexandria was founded in Alexandria, Egypt. In the fourth century, Rome established 28–30 public libraries (Sessa, 2017). During the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, a “town library” was built in several European countries, such as England, Scotland, France, and Germany (Sessa, 2017).

Public libraries in the United States are generally tax-supported institutions, so the services and programs provided by them are intended to meet the social, educational, and recreational needs of local community citizens. Their collections typically span the interests of all age groups (Arns, 2017). Public libraries are usually considered as the community anchor for lifelong learning. Public libraries also form important connections between communities and local, state, and federal government agencies by assuring access to government documents and providing access to information about government rules and regulations (Arns, 2017). A major shift in the role of public libraries has occurred due to the availability of information on the Internet and social media—from “a center of information” to “the hub of a community” (Clubb , 2017). In the new era, the circulation of print and multimedia materials is no longer the most critical role of the public library, and public libraries have actually become a central hub in the community and a connector for the elderly, adults, teens, and young children. Public libraries originally served as private collections and repositories for political and religious organizations, though only a few public libraries began to surface at the turn of the nineteenth century. The passage of the Museums Act of 1945 brought public libraries closer to the role they fill today. This law required tax-funded museums to curate art and culture. Several British cities met the population requirements to establish a museum instead of combining museums with libraries. Thus, the concept of tax-funded, community-supported libraries and cultural centers began to flourish (Sessa, 2017, pp. 1836–1849). School Libraries

There were 98,460 school libraries in 2019 (American Library Association, 2019). The core mission of school libraries is to support the school’s work to educate students and support personal learning beyond the classroom (Harlan, 2018). School library media centers are usually located within primary and secondary schools. The collection development in school libraries is mainly to support classroom activities and curriculum development. School library media centers are also often technology intensive and their programs are designed to enhance students’ and teachers’ experiences through their instructional process (Arns, 2017). Standards for the twenty-first century learner will ask school librarians to help learners use skills, resources, and tools to inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge. School libraries serve students as an essential educational environment to facilitate the pursuit of personal growth, making informed decisions, applying knowledge to new situations, creating new knowledge, sharing knowledge, and participating ethically and productively as members of our democratic society (Woolls and Coatney, 2017). The user groups of school libraries include students, faculty, staff, and other affiliated groups. The major service provided by the school library includes the “literacy and media center.”

The first professionally trained school librarian was Mary E. Kingsbury who worked in Brooklyn, New York (Clark, 1979). In 1919, the National Education Association created a committee to set the standards of school librarian practices. In the 1950s, the passing of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) greatly promoted the growth of this profession. By 2000, the increased affordability and adoption of technology added a focus to school library services, so school librarians were also called “school media specialists.”

School librarians have the responsibility of maintaining the library collection and involving themselves in classroom teaching activities by providing age-appropriate readings, storytelling, holding book shows, and technology training. Thus, school librarians/school media specialists are great partners of teachers and they work hand-in-hand to support the learning of the students. Special Libraries

Special libraries are the information institutions that have a special collection and specialized services for their clientele and stakeholders. There are approximately 5150 special libraries which include corporate libraries, medical libraries, law libraries, religious libraries, etc. (ALA, 2019). Special libraries vary considerably but are generally defined by a special purpose and clientele (Arns, 2017). Like academic libraries, special libraries obtain funding from their parent institutions and their goals are aligned with their parent organization’s goals and aims. The collections in special libraries are usually focused on narrow subject areas of interest to their parent organizations. In 1909, special librarians in the United States founded their own association, the Special Libraries Association (SLA), which is among one of the eleven (11) divisions of the American Library Association (ALA). There are various types of special librarians including but not limited to corporate/business librarians, art librarians, health science librarians, law librarians, museum librarians, and music librarians. Since special library careers are often concentrated on a particular subject matter, special librarians usually hold a second higher education degree (Crumpton and Porter-Fyke, 2016). Special libraries organize the resources they collect in ways that best suit local needs. The functions of special libraries include analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information and data, and providing reports, abstracts, and indexes to users. The word “special” can be interpreted to mean services provided to a specialized subject by a “specialist” in subject-oriented libraries.

In short, all these four types of library organizations share similar characteristics, such as holding a collection, processing, organization, and dissemination of information to individuals, groups, and organizations.

9.3 Archives and Records Management

The core mission of archiving organizations is to collect and store historical records and make them available for educational and research purposes (Cunningham, 2017). Craig (1990) stated that a major goal of archiving is to acquire, preserve, and make available records of enduring value. Archiving organizations are usually funded by both public and private institutions and are affiliated with corporate and higher education institutions. People’s archiving activities can be traced back to an agricultural society when man invented agriculture and writing activities (Yale, 2015). Since the activity of “writing” was considered an elite skill during that time period, people began to keep records of land and its produce in written form. After records emerged, “storehouses” become a part of the necessity to store and manage the written records. The core mission of “records management” is to ensure the integrity of the “life cycle” or “birth-to-death” process of records. That is, “records management” reflects the workflow of information creation, processing, storage, retrieval, protection, and final disposition of records. In terms of the “user group,” the user groups of archives are usually business and government organizations, public citizens, scholars, and researchers.

In the modern era, the spurt of archives was stimulated by the growth of operational documentation generated by institutions. After World War II, the Reorganization of the Federal Government Commission was created to evaluate the issue of the rapidly growing number of records (Krauskopf, 1958). Initially, the term “paperwork management” was used by this commission in their report, and soon the term “records management” was used to refer to a broader range of formats of records. Thus, archives are a kind of original source for examining history. Archival studies became a field that is closely affiliated with the study of paperwork, materials, and information objects. Another essential role of archives is that they represent a final product of decisions made by a series of stakeholders—from original authors who created a manuscript/artifact, to the archivists who preserve and take care of the material/object, to the government officials who have determined whether to save or destroy this material/object, to the scholars and researchers who use them for creating new information and knowledge. From this archiving process, the functions of archiving have been manifested as the following categories: (1) archives are raw and historical materials that demonstrate previous perspectives and evidence which can foster a new knowledge discovery process; (2) archives serve as the functionality of an educational laboratory to support learners’ and researchers’ understanding of various human experiences; and (3) archives serve as important cultural heritage for communities to preserve the local communities’ experience from individuals to groups, and for the whole society (Roe, 2016). In terms of studying archives, there are a set of challenging problems that is noteworthy for future exploration—creating electronic records, responding to disasters, dealing with copyright, and using technology to create and present digital collections, using social media to share digital archives, etc.

Records management is an outgrowth of archives management and is concerned with the need to preserve records that have long-term or permanent value (Benedon, 2017). An electronic record is a record created, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means (Benedon, 2017). Professional organizations today usually receive various grants from government and business programs for developing electronic record systems.

9.4 Museums

Museums are usually places for displaying collections of information objects in order to enhance people’s understanding of the real world, since these information objects are usually selected from a natural and cultural world. They are a way to tell ourselves who we are and how our identities and histories are established (Yale, 2015). The collections in museums are selected purposefully for special users. For instance, the Smithsonian Institution, established in 1846, is the world’s largest museum with 19 specialized museums (e.g., National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of African Art), nine research centers, and one zoology. These collections of objects are often arranged in chronological order or by specific themes.

Museums can bridge the gap between the past and the present by providing a deep level of appreciation and understanding of what was achieved and accomplished in the past by preserving and displaying artifacts which otherwise could be lost or missing from the historical record. The museum always plays a significant role in the community by satisfying people’s curiosity in knowledge, history, and various cultural heritages (Simmons, 2017).

Like a special library, museums handle nontraditional materials with the mission of being an educational space for public consumption (Simmons, 2016). The International Council of Museums defines a museum as a “nonprofit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment” (Simmons, 2017, pp. 1821–1822). While all information institutions are vital for communities, museums are a unique space for all to explore. Whether the focus is art, science, or history in general, one is bound to have an enriching experience. Museums, as prominent cultural institutions, provide a way to understand the human experience.

9.5 Nontraditional Information Institutions

9.5.1 Documentation and Data Centers

Documentation centers appeared during the 1950s and 1960s, and they exist at local, regional, national, and international levels. The main functions of a documentation center are to identify, acquire, organize, store, and disseminate documents to a special group of users. Nowadays, they are often called “information centers” or “knowledge centers.” These centers exist in health care, higher education, law firms, and government organizations.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the term “documentation” was less used and the concept of “information” emerged, because “information” represented the trends of widely accepted electronic information sources and services (e.g., electronic databases) in the 1970s library settings. Databases could be accessed remotely and end-users may request “information” (not a “document”) with various online information retrieval services. Meanwhile, individuals may request “information” not only from an institution, but also from other institutions via consortia services. Thus, information can be delivered and disseminated at an even more micro level which is the “information-level” instead of the “document-level.” To some extent, document services are similar to reference services nowadays, but they focus more on the macro-level documents which are books, periodicals, and government reports, etc. The main services provided by document centers include: (1) notifying readers of the availability of documents, (2) obtaining documents through inter-library loan, and (3) reproductions of documents.

The earliest organized efforts to curate machine-readable data (machine- readable cataloging data) in the United States began in the 1960s. A few universities and government-supported research institutions established specialized repositories, called data archives or data libraries, to preserve and distribute numeric machine-readable data. The first social science data archive in the United States, the Roper Public Opinion Research Center, was established at Williams College in 1947. In 1962, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) was founded at the University of Michigan.

Data is not only a necessary foundation of research, but is also essential for planning, decision-making, scientific inquiry, research, navigation, and almost every kind of human activity in an information society. Modern data centers are usually maintained as the core operation by organizations in order to support those essential information technology services, such as Internet connectivity, intranets, extranet, etc. In the world of higher education institutions, many colleges and universities have data centers or server rooms on their own campus to collect, organize, and disseminate data to advance research and educational activities (Mugridge and Sweeney, 2015). In corporate settings, large companies usually establish their own IT infrastructure to support their own large amount of data with their networked computers.

“Data centers” refers to a set of facilities that house servers and related hardware and software. A subtle difference between “data center” and “data repositories” is that “data repositories” facilitate the collection and storage of various forms of research data.

In a university setting, many colleges and other units maintain their own server rooms. University libraries have their own server rooms to support their own website, MySQL databases, EZproxy, ILLIAD (inter-library loan services), search engine appliances, domain controllers, and other library backup servers. Other necessary facilities in a data center include fire suppression systems and cooling systems, such as air conditioning units.

A current trend for the building data center is the “data center consolidation” strategy which is to reduce the IT assets by adopting more efficient technologies, such as cloud computing, server virtualization, storage virtualization, and so on. Also, most higher educational institutions are forming a centralized data center. When building data centers, several important factors should be taken into account, such as space, temperature control, energy generators (e.g., electricity generator backup), security (e.g., biometric access), virtual environment, network equipment (e.g., fiber network), etc. (Mugridge and Sweeney, 2015).

With the advancement of cloud computing, an increasing number of data centers are providing cloud computing services to provide flexible, efficient resource allocation, and more rapid change management (Choi et al., 2015). As for the data center providing cloud computing service, the most basic element of the operation is the power that is eventually consumed by the servers. Choi et al. (2015) compared the traditional data center with the cloud data center and pointed out three major differences: (1) power density: in the traditional data center power density per rack is relatively low (1–3 kW/rack) compared to the high power density in the cloud data center (10kw/rack or even higher); (2) data center architecture: traditional data centers are difficult to expand the facility, but the cloud data center is flexible and supports the expansion of ICT; and (3) operation: traditional data centers manage ICT infrastructure and facilities independently, but cloud data centers employ integrated management for stability and cost-efficiency.

9.6 Publishing Organizations

Publishing is a kind of information activity to make information items (e.g., music scores, literature) and tools (e.g., software) available to the public with or without fees. There are both profit and nonprofit publishing organizations that nowadays make information become commercialized products/services or public activities for social goods. The term “publisher” usually refers to those “publishing corporations” or “organizations.” For instance, different types of “publishers” can be formed based on the type of content that they disseminate or distribute; that is, “books,” “periodicals,” “newspapers,” “electronic databases,” etc. Publishers’ practices originated from the introduction of “writing” and “printing.” In the eleventh century, Chinese inventor Bi Sheng invented “movable type” and this technique reached Europe in the fifteenth century, and revolutionizing the way of communicating ideas.

Publishers may include different divisions or small publishing houses since publishing activities are actually a set of team works by nature. A publisher usually employs professionals in the following areas: (1) production professionals team up with designers to ensure the transfer of manuscripts to printed books or e-books; (2) designers create eye-catching designs in a bookshop window or social media sphere; (3) marketing professionals focus on publicizing the new books with creative and multichannel marketing campaign strategies to connect with current and new readers; (4) technology professionals provide technical support for the publishing platform that are used to create new books; and (5) the distribution team takes care of the book delivery process from printing house to the warehouse, and to bookshops, online retailers, and then on to end-users. The collaboration process among these professional teams reflects the stages of publishing—creation, acquisition, editing, production, printing, marketing, and distribution.

Publishers and libraries are closely related institutions. Both publishers and libraries are institutions that aim to provide a high-quality platform for authors and content. Publishing organizations have a long tradition of providing a platform and processes to writers who create content so they can distribute that content. As for libraries, library institutions serve as the intermediaries between writers and readers, and add a tremendous amount of value to that relationship. In short, publishing organizations work closely with authors (information creators) for creating and distributing content, while library organizations focus on serving the needs of the community of readers (information users).

With the development of information and communication technology (ICT), both the publishing and library worlds have had dramatic changes regarding managing and disseminating information. Electronic publishing is a form of publishing in which books and periodicals are produced and stored electronically rather than in print (Saxena, 2009). Publishers increasingly see themselves as content management institutions more than printing houses. The phenomenal success of e-books has led to dramatic changes for both the publishing industry as well as libraries as each entity works to figure out how best to deal with this format. Libraries must work with publishers to find purchase/license/use models that will work for publishers and authors, libraries, and readers.

9.7 Professional Associations

There are many professional originations in the field of information and knowledge professions. It is important for paraprofessionals to join these professional organizations at an early stage in their career in order to obtain continuous educational opportunities, networking opportunities, and leadership development opportunities. In addition, becoming a member of a professional organization allows information professionals to connect together to advocate on important issues for this profession. Below are some examples of related professional associations:

  • American Library Association (ALA)

ALA is the most influential library association. It was funded in 1876, and headquartered in Chicago. There are over 60,000 members in this organization. The mission of ALA is to provide leadership for the improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship. ALA is home to 11 membership divisions: (1) American Association of School Librarians (AASL); (2) Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS); (3) Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC); (4) Association for College &Research Libraries (ACRL); (5) Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA); (6) Library Information Technology Association (LITA); (7) Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA); (8) Public Library Association (PLA); (9) Reference and User Services Association (RUSA); (10) United for Libraries; and (11) Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA). Additionally, every state has its own library association.

  • Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

ASIS&T is an association for information professionals leading the research for providing novel techniques and technologies for enhancing the access to information. It was founded in 1937. The mission of ASIS&T is to advance the information sciences and related applications of information technology by providing various support for the growth of information professionals and organizations. ASIS&T’s membership consists of 4000 information specialists who come from various fields, such as computer science, linguistics, management, librarianship, engineering, law, medicine, etc. ASIS&T usually hosts its annual meeting in October or November. The number of attendees is approximately from several hundreds to 1000 each year.

  • I-schools: Information Schools (iSchool Caucus)

The mission of an iSchool is to enhance the understanding of the uses and users of information, the nature of information itself, as well as information technologies and their applications. iSchools promote an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the opportunities and challenges of information management, with a core commitment to concepts like universal access and user-centered organization of information (Larsen, 2009). To be qualified to be a part of iSchools, an institution is expected to have substantial sponsored research activity and engagement in the training of future researchers, as well as a commitment to progress in the information field. For example, the College of Information of UNT is one of the 55 institutions iSchools and it became a core member in 2015. iSchools host their annual conference between February and March. Some commonly discussed topics at iConference include (but are not limited to): information behavior, community informatics, human–computer interaction, education in libraries, information systems, social computing, knowledge management, information retrieval, information services, information organization, digital curation and preservation, bibliometrics, scholarly communication, participatory cultures, digital youth, etc.

  • User Experience Professional Association (UXPA)

UXPA is an authoritative organization on the practice of usability, user-centered design (UCD), and user experience (UX). It was founded in 1991. Its members consist of interaction designers, information architects, front-end developers, etc. UXPA is an international organization with 50 chapters and members in 60 countries. The UXPA conference takes place around June each year. This conference not only has its own proceedings but also includes its own journal which is called the Journal of Usability Studies. This is a peer-reviewed online publication which reports the best-practice cases in this field.

  • Society of American Archivists (SAA)

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) was founded in 1936 and it is the largest professional association dedicated to the needs and interests of archives and archivists. SAA has around 6200 professional archivists employed by governments, universities, businesses, libraries, and historical organizations. Their publication is The American Archivist which is the leading journal in the archival field. This association has its annual meeting which is held around August of each year. SAA provides a variety format of continuing education opportunities, such as online webinars, courses, certification programs, etc.

  • Medical Library Association (MLA)

The MLA is the most authoritative association for educating health information professionals, supporting health information research, and promoting access to the world’s health science information. It was funded in 1898. It is a nonprofit, educational organization of more than 1100 institutions and 3600 individual members in the health science information field. The mission of MLA is to foster excellence in professional achievement and leadership of health sciences libraries and information professionals in order to enhance the quality of health care, education, and research. The annual conference of MLA is usually held in May or June. The number of attendees is approximately over 1600. Attendees are medical librarians and health science professionals.

  • American Medical Information Association (AMIA)

Health informatics is an interdisciplinary and scientific field of study on how to effectively use data, information, and knowledge to support scientific inquiry, problem solving, and decision-making in the area of health care. The ultimate goal is to improve human health. AMIA is the most influential informatics meetings in the healthcare industry and it was formed in 1989.

Its members are over 4000 informatics professionals in academia and the industrial world. The mission of this organization is to lead the way in transforming healthcare through trusted science, education, and the practice of informatics. AMIA usually holds its annual symposium in November. This conference has its own proceedings and it is a conference that connects a broad community of professionals and students interested in informatics. Some commonly discussed topics in the annual symposium include: biomedical data visualization, clinical workflow and human factors, consumer informatics and PHRs, mobile health, informatics in health professional education, interactive systems, etc.

To sum up, the benefits of attending a professional conference can be achieved by keeping up with trends, especially with new technologies. At these conferences, there are also various events and exhibits offered to increase interactions between attendees and new products or services. Exhibits give LIS professionals a chance to ask vendors and publishers in-depth questions. Conference exhibit halls allow conference attendees to have product demonstrations and explore user-interfaces without having to schedule a demonstration with the vendor or sign a trial license. Attending conferences allows professionals a chance to survey the entire field of products and services available to them, filter out what is not useful, and to gain more detailed information about resources that may benefit their organization. Information professionals may learn how colleagues from different institutes handle similar problems or challenges. Being an active member of one or more professional organization will greatly increase the opportunities for socialization, networking, and obtaining professional rejuvenation. Thus, paraprofessionals are encouraged to join professional associations of interest to obtain extra opportunities for professional development.

9.8 Conclusion

This chapter started with an overview of the main functions of traditional and nontraditional information institutions—meeting the educational, informational, cultural, or recreational needs of the citizen. Traditional information institutions include libraries, archives, museums, and documentation centers. Nontraditional information organizations include data centers and publishing organizations which are good examples of the expansion of the information field (Benedon, 2017). Other kinds of information institutions include some information-producing organizations (e.g., producers of radio, film, and television programs; universities and research laboratories; design studios; database and Internet content providers). In addition, there are also some information dissemination organizations (e.g., book, magazine, and newspaper wholesalers and retailers; radio and television broadcasters; film distributors; database vendors and service providers). A noteworthy phenomenon among these information institutions is the trend of convergence of these information institutions.

With the advancement of technology, changes from electronic information to digital information, from printed books to e-books and digital books, from ICT to cloud computing, all these information organizations are expanding their services and functions through either collaboration or self-evolution. That is, the distinct functions between these information organizations seem to be blurred or minimized. Thus, information professionals may assemble or re-assemble their training and skills to fit into the needs of different information organizations. Definitely, when information professionals transform themselves into successful employees of these information organizations, they should also carefully analyze the culture of these information institutions with regard to their missions, historical backgrounds, functions and values, and services as well as key user groups. Especially, these three key variables of an information institution need to be taken into consideration: type of institution, funding sources, and user groups. Furthermore, professional associations provide additional educational and professional development opportunities for information professionals, so the participation and leadership in these associations will be helpful for information professionals to realize their professional rejuvenation.

Discussion Questions

  • For which information institution are you interested in working? How, when, and why was this institution created? How was it funded? What was its intellectual, cultural, social, and political context?
  • What is something new you learned from this chapter? Discuss the last information institution you interacted with and the service you received.
  • What other information institutions have you observed but that are not included in this chapter? What are the core competencies required by all these information institutions?
  • Choose four (4) types of information institutions discussed in this chapter, research each one further and complete the following table:

Choose any four (4) types of information institutions from this chapter

Corresponding professional organizations (add URL)

Organizational missions


What kinds of professional positions exist in these organizations?

What are the main functions/services of a selected information institution?

What are the funding sources for the selected information institution?

What are the main user groups of a selected information institution?

  • Discuss how the current technological trends contribute to the changing landscape of information and knowledge institutions.
  • What is the role of a professional association? What values do they bring to this profession?


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