Accessible information; informed people
The Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) was established in 1977 as the Indexing and Abstracting Society of Canada / Société canadienne pour l’analyse de documents (IASC/SCAD) to:
- encourage the production and use of indexes and abstracts;
- promote the recognition of indexers and abstractors;
- improve indexing and abstracting techniques;
- provide a means of communication among individual indexers and abstractors across Canada.
We changed our name in 2006 to reflect the fact that indexing is the major specialty of our members.
ISC/SCI members work in a wide range of fields, with a wide variety of skill sets that include cataloguing, fact checking, glossary writing, HTML encoding, project management, teaching, thesaurus construction – and of course abstracting.
Our desire is to make accessible pathways to information and transform readers into informed people.
Canada’s national indexing society was formally established in 1977. Its origins, however, go back to the early 1970s. When the Index Committee of the Bibliographical Society of Canada held its first executive meeting on March 20, 1971, in Toronto, it was resolved that the Committee should concern itself primarily with the promotion of indexing and the training of indexers, rather than undertake major indexing projects itself. Guidelines for future activities were agreed upon, including the compilation of a Union List of Indexes and a Directory of Indexers.
An “index training workshop pilot project” was later set up in co-operation with the School of Library Science (now the Faculty of Information) at the University of Toronto.1
In March 1977, the Committee on Bibliographical Services for Canada (CBSC) hosted an indexing and abstracting workshop at the National Library of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada). Attendees “noted the absence of a specific forum for abstracters and indexers in Canada, and recommended that such an association be formed.” The CBSC then sponsored an Open Forum for Indexers and Abstracters on June 12, 1977, at the Canadian Library Association conference in Montreal. This meeting led to the establishment of IASC/SCAD.2
Affiliation with the Society of Indexers
The first International Conference of the British Society of Indexers (SI) in 1978 was attended by IASC/SCAD representatives, who discussed with their British counterparts affiliation of the Canadian organization with the SI. As noted by the SI:
It was Canada’s bilingualism, reinforced by the influence of a strong contingent of delegates from France, that stimulated consideration – for the first time – of the possibility of moving out of the English-speaking limitations within which we have hitherto operated. Even before the formalities of affiliation are completed, the youngest member of the family is already making its influence felt.3
Formal affiliation of IASC/SCAD with the SI took place on January 1, 1979, and terms of affiliation were published in The Indexer in April 1979. At that time, IASC/SCAD had 115 individual and institutional members.4 The current terms of affiliation can be found in the International Agreement of indexing societies.
Membership and Regional Representation
Membership is open to any person, institution, corporation, and indexing and abstracting service interested in the promotion of the Society’s objectives, on an individual or an institutional basis. The Society encourages students to join by offering them a special membership rate.
Society members are located across Canada (including the Canadian Arctic), and there are members in the United States and Europe as well. Within Canada, the Society has established four regions, each with its own representative: British Columbia; Central Canada; Eastern Canada; and the Prairies and Northern Canada. Regional boundaries are reviewed annually to ensure that they reflect the geographic distribution of Society membership.
Publications and Communication with Members
The Society publishes its Bulletin three times a year, as well as its Register of Indexers Available annually. In addition, members receive the Society’s Membership Directory each year. Members are also invited to join ISC-l, the Society’s online discussion forum.
Conferences and Activities at Home and Abroad
The Society holds its conference and annual general meeting in a different Canadian city each year. The Society has also held joint conferences with the American Society for Indexing (ASI). In addition to this national conference and AGM, indexers hold regional meetings in different parts of the country throughout the year. Toronto-area indexers meet on a monthly basis (except in December and the summer months), while indexers in the Vancouver and Ottawa areas have been organizing regular meetings, and their counterparts in the Maritimes have enjoyed successful get-togethers despite the challenges of travel from different provinces.
The Society is proud to be an active and proactive participant in international indexing matters. We are a signatory to the International Agreement between the world’s indexing Societies and associated networks. The ISC sends a representative to the annual Society of Indexers conference, as well as to the ASI conference if possible, and is represented on the international board of The Indexer. It should be noted that 2008 was a stellar year for the Society internationally, with ISC/SCI members attending and/or actively participating at conferences in South Africa, the U.S., England, and Australia.
Active in the Publishing Industry
The Society is a member of the Book and Periodical Council, the umbrella for writing and publishing organizations in Canada.
1. Peter Greig, “Book Indexing in Canada,” The Indexer, 8(3), April 1973, 164-71, quoted in Hazel K. Bell, “History of Societies of Indexers, Part II: Three Affiliations,” The Indexer, 20(4), October 1997, 212-15, p. 214.
2. Peter Greig, in G. Norman Knight, Indexing, The Art of (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980), quoted in Bell, “History of Societies of Indexers, Part II,” p. 214.
3. J.A. Gordon, “The Canadian Connection,” The Indexer, 11(2), October 1978, 109.
4. “Terms of Affiliation with the Canadian Society,” The Indexer, 11(3), April 1979, 170.