Another Successful Conference

Our May 27-28 conference in Ottawa was attended by 66 people from across Canada and parts of the US. We met old friends and made new ones as we laughed, learned, and shared experiences and encouragement. You can find more photos in our conference album on Flickr.

Several speakers made their handouts available to our members. If you’re an ISC/SCI member, log in and find the handouts here. If you’re not a member but attended the conference, visit this page and use the conference password.

Thank you to the conference committee headed by Heather Ebbs, with Alicia Peres, Barb Cuerden, Frances Curry, JoAnne Burek, and Nancy Wills, for all your work in planning and organizing this successful event.

Thank you, all you wonderful donors, for providing door prizes. Your contributions helped make the conference fun.

Beth Macfie
Clive Pyne
Heather Ebbs
Margaret de Boer
Ruth Pincoe

Thanks also to the Lord Elgin Hotel and the University of Ottawa residence.

Thank you, attendees, for your enthusiasm and participation. And an extra-big thank you if you filled out the conference survey. Your input and comments will be of enormous help to next year’s conference committee.

And speaking of next year’s conference, we’re headed to St. Johns, Newfoundland! The dates are June 12-13, 2020, so start thinking about your plans now.

Great Intentions

In Cal Newport’s latest book, “Digital Minimalism”, he describes how the Amish use technology intentionally.

When a new technology arises, the whole community closely observes a first adopter and tries “to discern the ultimate impact of the technology on the things the community values most. If this impact is deemed more negative than helpful, the technology is prohibited. Otherwise, it’s allowed, but usually with caveats on its use that optimize its positives and minimize its negatives.”

Over thirty years ago, indexers were adopting a new technology when we switched from index cards to indexing software. No doubt at the time there were positives and negatives to be thought through.

Looking back now, and especially for indexers who started after the age of cards, it’s hard to imagine there were negatives.

But are we optimizing the positives?

Learn some new tips and habits at the ISC/SCI Conference in Ottawa May 24-25, when Gale Rhoades (Macrex) and Maria Sullivan (Cindex) give you their best advice to help you optimize your use of your indexing software.

Visit the conference page here.

The Professional Treatment

In 1997, John E Simkin, a founding member of the Australian Indexing Society, wrote about the “technical vs. professional aspects of the practice of indexing” and argued that “indexers must take professionalism seriously if they are to raise their own status or contribute to the development of modern information management.” You can read the article here in The Indexer Volume 20 (4) https://www.theindexer.org/files/20-4/20-4_178.pdf

Simkin must have said something controversial, because in the following issue (Vol 20 (1)), there were three “counterblast” letters to the editor. What were the concerns? Well, one of them was this throw-away statement “If all you’ve ever bothered to learn is how to knock off an index to a book on some well-known topic — gardening, biography, cookery …”.

You just don’t knock off a biography, exclaimed the letter-writers. Carol Barlow, a scientist, wrote that indexing biographies is “demanding, time consuming, and uneconomic” and added “I therefore leave these to the experts.” Hazel Bell directed the readers to her book “Indexing biographies and other stories of human lives” for  the contrary case.

Biographies and memoirs can be fascinating to index and are within anyone’s capability with some training. At the conference in Ottawa May 24-25, Kendra Millis will help us grow professionally when she shares her expertise in this rich and engaging genre.

And now a reminder that special pricing deadlines are approaching fast. Early bird pricing on conference fees ends Monday April 15. The discount on room rates at the 90U Residence on the University of Ottawa campus ends April 11. The Lord Elgin room rate discount ends April 22.

Get the details and links are here.

Indexing in the Scholarly Niche

Of the all the book titles published in Canada, scholarly books make up less than 3% (Statistics Canada, 2016). For indexers, however, scholarly publishing is a significant category and can be an important source of work. But, as many indexers know, the niche has its challenges.

Enid Zafran calls scholarly indexing “one of the most ‘brain-challenging’ types of work for indexers. Authors can wander, repeat, and be obscure as they write for others in their subject specialty.” Join us at ISC/SCI Conference on May 24-25 in Ottawa, as Enid presents “Scholarly Indexing of Books: Go Deep”. In this presentation, Enid will discuss how to approach these works, the importance of author relations, and the future of the scholarly niche.

By the way, Enid’s Sunday workshop on indexing names is now filled. However, you can add yourself to the wait list when you register for the conference.

Construction plans

Writing an index can be like building a magnificent backyard storage shed one brick at a time, with no blueprint and no idea of what the finished product will look like.

Initially, the work proceeds cautiously and slowly; many decisions are made by feeling. Enthusiasm turns to discomfort as the growing structure begins to look awkward and messy. We push through it. As we approach the final chapters, the layout becomes apparent, and the speed picks up as we reach the end of the book. Or, perhaps nothing is clear until we step back and edit the whole thing.

Is there a better way? Fred Leise, renowned indexer and Berkeley course instructor, points out that indexers are often advised to “mirror the structure of the text” but we are not told how to do that. Fred will show us how at the ISC/SCI conference in Ottawa May 24-25.

Behind the screen look at decolonization of terms

Last December, one of the topics that came up on the ISC-L list was the need to decolonize terms in the library classification system. In the ensuing thread, we heard that work was underway, driven mainly by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FACLA).

So, what is this work? Following up on the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the CFLA-FACLA formed a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to advance the Calls to Actions. In 2017, the Committee delivered an 87-page report. The report presents 10 over-arching recommendations and many detailed recommendations along four tracks, designed to help libraries in their efforts to advance reconciliation.

Work is indeed underway. We are thrilled to have the Chair of the Committee, Camille Callison, join us at the conference on Ottawa May 24-25. Camille will be accompanied by Katherine Kasirer, Senior Librarian at the National Film Board. They will give a joint keynote presentation on a special decolonization project: “A Behind-the-Screen Look at the Indigenous Knowledge Materials Classification Schema (IMCS) Implementation during the Creation of NFB’s Indigenous Cinema”.

You can register for the conference here.

Parliamentary information

House of Commons
Credit: Makaristos on Wikipedia

The House of Commons, Canada’s lower house of Parliament, is steeped in tradition. But progress carries on. When television cameras were installed in the 1970s, news coverage was changed forever, and arguably so were debating styles and citizens’ impressions of politicians.

Now renovations on the House of Commons original workplace have begun. When Centre Block reopens after 10 years, every aspect of the building and its systems will have been upgraded. Who can guess at the impact of these changes?

A recent change that has had a deep impact is the development of the House of Commons’ integrated system to record, publish, and manage parliamentary information. In our conference in Ottawa May 24-25, Alexandre Grandmaître and Martine Rocheleau from the House of Commons will explore how this technological change has turned indexing into information management, how business processes were adapted accordingly, and what challenges they face going forward.

An elegant niche

Example of Index Locorum
A page from “Substantial Knowledge: Aristotle’s Metaphysics” (Reeve)

Ever since Kate Mertes offered to talk about “indexing locora” at the ISC/SCI conference, we’ve been curious.

“Index locorum” literally means index of places. Other indexes with Latin names include index rerum (subjects), index nominum (names), and index verborum (words). It’s unlikely that you’ll see a book with any index named so elegantly, except for the index locorum…which is not an index of places in the everyday sense.

So, we wondered, what does an index locorum look like? We found one in Substantial Knowledge: Aristotle’s Metaphysics by C.D.C. Reeve. You’ll see it in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.com. This book has 300 pages of text, a 9 page Index Locorum and a 3 page General Index.

Kate says there is a growing demand for these types of indexes, but they are finicky. Learn how to work in this elegant-sounding niche at the conference on May 24-25 in Ottawa.

Sunday Workshop

Names: The Challenge of Indexing

Presented by Enid L. Zafran

Date and time: May 26, 2019, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Place: 12th Floor Desmarais Building, 55 Laurier Avenue E.
Cost: $105 Canadian (includes lunch)

Enid’s workshop was amazing! As expected, it was of tremendous help to new indexers, but even experienced indexers left the workshop quite pleased with what they had learned. Don’t miss your last chance to learn from the master.

—Connie Binder, chapter chair ASI Mid-Atlantic Chapter, January 2019

No matter what field of indexing you specialize in, no matter how long you have been an indexer, names always present a challenge. In addition to names of people, other types of proper names are considered, including major events, legal materials, titles, book characters, etc.

In this day-long workshop, Enid Zafran will consider names indexing from three aspects:

  • the strategies to make them into index entries,
  • determining when a name is “indexable,”
  • the correct formatting and sorting of names of various types.

There will be hands-on exercises during the day (no laptop or software required).

This workshop was given for the first time in Chicago in October 2018.

Enid covered so many different naming principles that challenged us and illuminated our knowledge. Everyone who attended was enthralled with the presentation from this veteran indexer.

—conference participant

Note that this is the final time this workshop will be offered at a conference, so be sure to add this day to your conference time when signing up!

Return to conference page

ISC/SCI Conference Program Announced

The ISC/SCI has set the program for the 2019 conference taking place in Ottawa on May 24 and 25.

In keeping with the conference theme, Beyond the Page—New Platforms, New Realities, the program offers a variety of topics that are timely and informative for new and experienced indexers alike.

Sessions on indexing practices include working with scholarly texts (Enid Zafran), biography and memoirs (Kendra Millis), structuring indexes (Fred Liese), and editing indexes “from the get-go” (Anne Fifer). Kate Mertes will talk about a growing and profitable market that you’ve probably never heard: of the indexing of locora.

Special sessions taking us “beyond the page” include

  • solutions toward decolonizing access and classification presented by a panel from the Indigenous Matters Committee of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (they raised this issue in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee report)
  • a step into the world of parliamentary information—an underpinning of informed democratic engagement—with Martine Rocheleau and the House of Commons indexers on intelligence-based search
  • a discussion of ethics presented by Christine Jacobs and a panel of indexers and editors
  • business practices by Pierre Joyal
  • techniques that will change the way you work—physically and mentally—to restore energy and reduce stress, in a mini-workshop given by Ruth Paulauskas, founder of BreathWoRx

Following the conference on May 26 is a full-day workshop “Names: The Challenge of Indexing” by Enid Zafran.

Conference packages are available for Friday-only, Saturday-only, or both days. Full-time students receive a special reduced rate. As a reminder, we have discounted rates for accommodations.

Early Bird pricing is on now until April 15. Visit the conference page for the full conference agenda and links to the registration form.