The idea of establishing a general institution dealing with current issues of archival science was formed at archival meetings in Radenci, which were organised by the Regional Archives Maribor under the leadership of Peter Pavel Klasinc. The meetings in Radenci were at that time related to the former Republic of Yugoslavia archives but also involved in cooperation with an increasing number of archivists coming from foreign countries such as Austria, Hungary, and Italy, focusing on the Balkan-Danube area. After the political events of the early 1990s many new states contacted the centre, which in 1992 was reorganised and renamed as the International Institute for Archival Science (IIAS) in the framework of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Studies, University of Maribor.
The institute's main activity is the organisation of the International Archival Day that since 2009 has been expanded to include an International Fair displaying equipment for archives and libraries from different companies. The International Archival Day, organised since 1991 first in Radenci in Slovenia and since 2005 in Trieste in Italy, brings together archival experts to discuss one or two major topics. Slovenian, Italian and English are the official languages. Some past topics are: Archives in the 20th Century (2009); Evaluation of Archival Records & Archival Safety (2008); Electronic Records & Private Archives (2007). The papers from the meetings held since 2003 are available online.
The Autumn Archival School, organised since 2007 at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, offers a post graduate weekly course with an international participation in Trieste. The lectures discuss topics concerning archival science, the digital documentation and management of archives, archival ethics, and the European and international ad hoc legislation.
The Glossary of Regional Historical Terminology, edited in 1995 in German, Italian and Slovene is the institute's main publication and is upgraded yearly at the Autumn Archival School. It has standardised the technical-scientific language regarding archival science.
Atlanti is the institute's official annual serial publication, published since 1991, devoted to current issues in the field of archival science. The publication Archives – Modern Archives was published annually from 1979 to 2003. There is a forum within the institute dedicated to the international archival community.
The publications on archival science are collected at the IIAS Library, which is highly specialised.
IIAS now comprises 20 member countries: Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovak Republic, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, and the Ukraine. IIAS is a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA).