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Amelia Kassel is well known to hundreds of San Jose State University and Simmons LIS students as a great teacher and career mentor. She’s also known among countless researchers and independent information professionals (not to mention clients) as an expert researcher on myriad business topics.

Amelia has had an amazing impact on the profession. She shares insights about her career here…

What is your current position or professional role?
I’m president of MarketingBase and specialize in industry, company and competitive and market intelligence research. I offer The Mentor Program for new Independent Information Professionals and teach successful business development, research methods, and cost and time-effective procedures using fee-based databases and advanced techniques for internet research. I also teach online research (beginning and advanced), competitive intelligence research, and information entrepreneurship at San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science and workshops for Simmons GSLIS CE.

How long have you been doing this work?
I’ve been a professional librarian since graduating with an MLS in 1971. I added an extra year of training by becoming an intern in medical librarianship at the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library from 1971 to 1972. I moved to Sonoma County in 1974 and became an adult services reference librarian. I started my business (originally called A.S.K. Information Specialist – my initials) in 1982 and went full time in 1984. I co-founded my current business, MarketingBase, in 1984. I taught information brokering at San Jose SLIS face-to-face from the early to mid-nineties and have been teaching distance courses there since 2004.

What career path led you to this work?
After working as a medical librarian, I moved to northern California and was a reference librarian at the Sonoma County Public Library from 1974-1984. I wanted more challenging work and a different experience, which led me to starting my research business in 1982. I went full time in 1984 after working at it for two years (mornings, evenings, and weekends) while still employed. I was very careful to avoid any conflict of interest.

What do you like most about your work?
I like the independence and creativity of operating a business. I love online research and finding information.

What least?
Bookkeeping, which, by the way, I outsource.

What do you see as the various career paths LIS professionals could follow with this type of skill set?
I hope that those who love research and the hunt will follow a similar career path.

What personal characteristics do you feel are important for someone doing this work?
• Independence
• Determination
• Persistence
• Critical thinking
• Self-starter

What type of courses would best prepare someone for this type of work?
• Business and marketing courses
• Specialty courses in conducting various type of research

What advice do you have for someone contemplating a career doing the type of work you do?
• Assess your strengths and weaknesses and prepare a plan of action to overcome weaknesses.
• Carefully evaluate your interests and capabilities and decide whether you can commit to a similar career path fully.

Anything that, looking back, you wish you’d learned in grad school that you didn’t?
Grad school was challenging and enjoyable. New technology requires continuous learning but grad school laid an excellent foundation.

Where can we follow your career?
Join AIIP! That’s where I’m most active and share my secrets and successes by voluntarily answering dozens of questions and participating in AIIP-L, the private discussion forum for AIIP members. I love sharing with those just starting out and also with my colleagues and peers who already operate independent information businesses. I’m on LinkedIn and teach short courses for Simmons GSLIS CE.