Alternatively known as "electronic librarians," "infopreneurs," "database riders," and in California "infosurfers," information brokers can be found for every research need. (See our sampling in "The Scoop on 'Info Brokers'," December 1992, [Article link].)

"They track the bread crumbs of what Hansel and Gretel left behind, and they extrapolate upon their findings, getting you exactly what you want," says Jim Thayer, CEO of two-employee Overseas Strategic Services, in Portland, Oreg., an export-consulting firm. Thayer regularly uses Portland-based broker InfoQuest.

To find an information broker, consult these two sources:

* The Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP). The five-year-old association has more than 400 members, all of whom adhere to a code of ethical business practices concerning the use of private records. Many members are small, young companies that are used to working within the limited research budgets of their small-company clients. For names of members in your city or state, contact AIIP president Janet Gotkin at 914-736-1565.

* The Burwell Directory of Information Brokers (Burwell Enterprises, 713-537-9051, $65). Widely available in libraries, the annual directory lists more than 1,200 information brokers in the United States and some 44 other countries, and includes descriptions of their background and expertise. The book contains many firms larger than those that belong to the AIIP.

-- Susan Greco