Mary Norris is coming to Newfoundland

Yes, that Mary Norris!

In her three decades in the New Yorker’s copy department, Mary received a lot of feedback from readers who care about what some might call “nitpicky” concerns related to the New Yorker style. For Mary, this was fodder for an entertaining column in the magazine, as well as her book “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Common Queen”.

Her latest book is “Greek to Me”, “a charming account of [her] lifelong love affair with words and her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo.”

We’re thrilled to have Mary Norris as the keynote speaker at the ISC/SCI  conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland from June 12-13.  Visit the conference page to learn more about the conference and to plan your trip.

Music while you work

A popular topic on ISC’s email discussion list this month was music to index by. It was generally agreed that it should be instrumental, or at least no English lyrics. Yet, as someone mentioned, when we were kids we found it easier to do our homework with the radio on. Is it younger brains, different tasks, or a bit of both?

Writers might do their best in a bustling coffee shop. Crafts and trades people, if they don’t have a radio playing, might whistle. Why do we seek out constant noise to keep us in the flow?

A few years ago, the founder of Focus@Will, a scientifically-based music streaming service, was in an interview. (I can’t find the podcast, otherwise I would link to it.) He painted a vivid picture of a prehistoric person, shall we say, sitting on the savannah, steadily chipping away to make a tool. Every several minutes, his subconscious notices the quiet. It prods him to break from his task and look around. If his brain didn’t keep interrupting him like this, he’d be taken down by a predator. It’s impossibly to prove, of course—but it’s a lovely image of what might be going on your brain when you need to focus.

It suggests that when indexers have music playing while they work, their subconscious is kept occupied, freeing the brain to stay focused for periods longer than several minutes—which is what we strive for when indexing.

Productivity and efficiency tricks are just some of the things we talk about on our email discussion list. It’s a great place to get help from our peers on all kinds of indexing and business issues. If you’re an indexer and you haven’t yet joined one of these lists, do so now.

And do think about coming to the ISC Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland June 12-13. Not only will you get more help and ideas—you’ll get to meet and hang out with these peers.

The indexer’s holiday gift guide

Did someone ask you want you want for Christmas?

If you’re like many people, you prefer experiences over material things. So, why not ask for help with your conference travel to St. John’s, Newfoundland next June?

Or more specifically, how about a ticket to the pre-conference event—a boat tour with Iceberg Quest? This award-winning tour will allow you to witness humpback whales, icebergs, puffins, and views of the island landscape from the sea. It’s on June 11 and runs for two hours starting at 4 p.m.

Our poster for the event

As a conference attendee, you and your travel partner will receive a discounted price if you book through the link on the conference page by April 11. Booking and payment can be made now or when you register for the conference (before April 11).

Why not visit the link now—or send your loved one there with credit card handy. Gift problem solved!

North America’s oldest community

St. John’s, Newfoundland is said to be the oldest city in North America. John Cabot, whose real name was Giovanni Caboto, was working for Henry VII of England when his ship sailed into the harbour on the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1497. Centuries afterward, Newfoundland was governed and defended by the British as a fishing outpost. The people of Newfoundland narrowly voted to join Canada only in 1949.

From 1764 to 1820, the colonial government discouraged permanent settlement by placing restrictions on construction. Buildings were mostly small and wooden. But after some devastating fires, they encouraged switching to stone and brick.

One of the new large stone buildings was the Murray Premises, a warehouse for exporting fishery products and importing other goods. It survived the Great Fire of 1892 and it’s one of the few buildings from its era that survives today.

Even Bowring Brothers promoted tourism (Colonial Office photographic collection, National Archives UK)

In the 1970s, the Newfoundland Historic Trust and St. John’s Heritage Society led the restoration of the 1846 building, turning it in to a modern commercial complex while retaining much of the original character. The complex, which is a National Historic Site, houses our conference venue, the Murray Premises Hotel.

What better way could there be for us conference-goers to experience the coastal community and ambience of historic St. John’s on June 12-13, 2020 than to have our sessions in this special hotel? And better than that, the hotel is offering special room rates for conference attendees. To make your reservation and to read about other accommodation and travel tips, visit the conference page.

2020 Conference: June 12-13, St. John’s, Newfoundland

The ISC/SCI is thrilled to announce that our next annual conference is taking place on June 12-13, 2020 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The reason why we’re so excited is because Newfoundland is like no other place in the world. Ask any Canadian mainlander about Newfoundland, and it’s either on their list of places to visit, or they dream of going back.

What’s the draw? Number one might be the legendary hospitality of the Newfoundlanders and the unique and robust culture—Newfoundland English even has its own dictionary. There’s also the art, the music, and the picturesque fishing villages and colourful houses. And, of course, there’s the dramatic scenery and spectacular wildlife on and around this island that is so far east into the Atlantic that it was once home to Vikings.

Whale

Over the coming weeks, we’ll give you tips and resources for planning your trip, and we’ll tell you about the conference speakers and the program. The conference committee is working on some big surprises.

In the meantime, check out the conference page. You’ll see the preliminary schedule and a starting list of accommodations. You’ll also find out how to reserve the Murray Premises Hotel, our conference venue, using your conference discount.

Indexing Society of Canada congratulates winner of 2019 Purple Pen Competition

Photo of Vivian UngerToronto: The Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) is proud to recognize one of its members, Vivian Unger, for winning the 2019 Purple Pen Competition.

“This is such a wonderful accomplishment for Vivian, and on behalf of the Indexing Society of Canada, I offer my wholehearted congratulations,” said Alexandra Peace, President of ISC/SCI. “This award is a testament to Vivian’s great work, and a validation of the value that a professional indexer brings to each book. I encourage all ISC members to consider entering future competitions.”

The Institute of Certified Indexers issued the following announcement of Vivian’s accomplishment:

“Vivian Unger, of New Brunswick and a member of the Indexing Society of Canada, has won the 2019 Purple Pen Competition sponsored by the Institute of Certified Indexers. Her index appears in the book Too Dumb for Democracy?: Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones by David Moscrop (published in March 2019 by Goose Lane Editions). She wrote a 10-page index for this 240-page political commentary, and the judges found her work to capture the author’s main themes and show a good web of terminology including many helpful cross-references and buzzwords from the field and author’s text.

The author, David Moscrop, wrote, “A book’s index is essential. A good index can make the difference between a volume being useful for accessing or sharing knowledge and being a frustrating experience of searching for your keys in the dark. Vivian’s index of Too Dumb for Democracy? is excellent. She broke down a complex subject into its essential parts and helped make the book accessible and, above all, useful.”

The production editor, Alan Shepherd of Goose Lane Editions, commented, “I’m thrilled for Vivian and hope that this award will allow her to grow her career and client base. The Press was delighted with the index that she produced for our book, Too Dumb for Democracy? Vivian’s index covers both people and events as well as abstract concepts and technical political language. She was able to quickly absorb and synthesize the ideas in the book and delivered a sterling index right on schedule.”

Vivian, who holds a B.A. from McGill University (major: CompSci, minor: Classics), completed the University of California, Berkeley, course “Indexing: Theory and Application” in 2017. She is the fourth Canadian to win the Purple Pen competition in its six-year history. Former winners include Stephen Ullstom (2014), Frances Curry (2015), and Sergey Lobachev (2017).

Vivian says that she landed her first professional indexing project in early 2018, a scholarly work on Cubist and Futurist art. Since then, she has indexed feminist history and biography. She hopes to index more political books in the future and to expand into the fields of science and technology. She serves on the national council of Fair Vote Canada, an organization that advocates for replacing Canada’s current voting system with a proportional representation system. She wrote, “Juggling the demands of electoral reform activism and an indexing career can be challenging. However, I believe this interest makes me well suited to work in the field of political science. I was therefore happy for the opportunity to index David Moscrop’s book Too Dumb for Democracy?”

All entrants receive a detailed feedback scoresheet that combines the comments from three judges. The judging is done anonymously by members of the Institute of Certified Indexers (ICI).  The winner receives a check for $100 USD as well as the publicity of appearing on the ICI website: www.certifiedindexers.com and notification to the book’s publisher and author. This honor also helps the new indexer in terms of building confidence and gaining career satisfaction. The members of ICI all endorse this as a successful way to mentor new indexers who benefit from a detailed review of their work. New indexers should watch for the announcement of the 2020 competition in late spring/early summer 2020.”

The Indexing Society of Canada | Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) is Canada’s professional society of indexers. Our mission is to encourage the production and use of indexes, promote the recognition of indexers, improve indexing techniques, and foster communication among individual indexers across Canada. Our vision is “Accessible information; informed people.” Learn more at indexers.ca.

2019 Ewart-Daveluy Indexing Award: Your Name Here

We know there were some terrific indexes written in 2018 by you. But only one of you submitted one for the Ewart-Daveluy Indexing Award. That’s just too few. Where were the rest of you? How can we encourage you to submit your hard work in 2020? (Maybe even that index from 2018?)

The application has never been easier. It’s all online. You don’t need a hard copy — a PDF of the book with the index is enough. The cost is only $30. And did you know that we provide feedback for up to three runners-up? That’s feedback from three experienced indexers.

We are looking for print book indexes that creatively overcome challenges, resulting in an outstanding, well-structured, easy-to-navigate, clear and comprehensive guide for all of its users. There’s no restriction to the subject matter or genre — textbooks, cookbooks, guidebooks, memoirs, art books, how-to books, travel books, all books — it’s your index we will be looking at.

“Oh, but,” you say, “I’m too new!” Nonetheless, you suspect that the index you wrote for that odd little guide to breaking up with your phone was really effective. Or you’re pretty sure you did a big favour to people looking for answers to their ailments by the way you exposed the hidden gems in that dense book about digestion. Or you amazed yourself with managing to build a clear guide to too many pages in the limited space allotted by the press.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Maybe you’ll get the prize (which won’t happen if you don’t apply). And if not, you’re very likely to get expert confidential feedback. That’s worth a lot.

Because we think there are indexes out there that we should have seen, for 2020, we are opening the submissions up to books published in 2018 and 2019 — a second chance to submit that index that you seriously considered, but didn’t quite have the time or courage to follow through. If you are a Canadian indexer or a Canadian resident, 2020 is the time to do it.

Watch for more information about the 2020 award deadline to come.

New Executive for 2019-2020

The new ISC/SCI Executive for 2019-2020 was voted in at this spring’s conference in Ottawa.

As of June 2019, the new President is Alexandra Peace and the new Vice-President is Pierre Joyal. They will be holding these positions until June 2021.

Check out the full Executive Committee list. If you have questions about the work of the ISC/SCI, feel free to contact your Regional Representative, or any member of the Executive.

2019 Tamarack Award: Stephen Ullstrom

The Tamarack Award was instituted to recognize members who go “above and beyond the call of duty” in their volunteer work for the Society. According to ISC president Alexandra Peace and past president Margaret de Boer, it was an easy decision to recognize the 2019 recipient, Stephen Ullstrom.

Stephen, who lives in Edmonton, was chosen because of his dedication and valuable input on the executive committee and for his commitment as the Prairies and Northern Canada regional representative for the past two years and agreeing to remain as the representative for an additional period. He is also being recognized for his strong vision of a mentorship program for the Society and for bringing it to fruition.

“We are thrilled to present this award to Stephen, and we are honoured to have him as a member of our society,” said Alexandra and Margaret. “Thank you, Stephen, for all you have given to the Society and its membership.” And here’s what some of Stephen’s colleagues on the executive had to say:

Pierre Joyal, Vice-President: “Stephen was the driving force behind the mentorship program. He was its initial sponsor, the originator of the concept and saw it to fruition. It would not have happened without his commitment and dedication, his work efforts, and determination to seeing it through. We are grateful for the work he accomplished and congratulate him on a well-deserved award.”

JoAnne Burek, Website Administrator: “As the regional representative for the Prairies and Northern Canada, Stephen genuinely cares about the well-being of his colleagues. He ensures that every few months they get together for conversation about business, indexing, work/life balance—whatever they want to talk about—even though they are spread across three provinces and into the States.”

Linda Christian, Mentorship Program co-coordinator: “I’ve been working with Stephen for the past year and have found that he has many, many good qualities. He is conscientious, reliable, responsible, thoughtful, and intelligent. He’s also very careful. He doesn’t allow any mentorship material to go out ‘slapdash’; it has to be right … Stephen is self-contained, measured in his communications and soft-spoken. For lack of a better way of putting it, he’s a nice guy … The Indexing Society of Canada is lucky to have him.”

Congratulations to Stephen on his accomplishments and for this special recognition.

Past recipients of the Tamarack Award and other ISC awards can be found on the awards page.

2019 Tamarack Award recipient Stephen Ullstrom

Stephen Ullstrom (second from left) receives the 2019 Tamarack Award from members of the ISC Executive.

Photo credit: JoAnne Burek

Indexing Society of Canada announces 2019 Tamarack Award recipient

Toronto: The Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) is pleased to announce the 2019 recipient of the Tamarack Award. Stephen Ullstrom (Edmonton) is being recognized for his contribution and commitment to the society.

Stephen was chosen due to his dedication and valuable input on the executive committee, and for his commitment as the Prairies and Northern Canada regional representative for the past two years and to remain as a representative for additional time.

“We are thrilled to present this award to Stephen, and we are honoured to have him as a member of our society,” said Alexandra Peace, President and Margaret de Boer, Past-President. “Thank you, Stephen, for all you have given to the society and its membership.”

Stephen is also being commended for his strong vision for a mentorship program for the society and for bringing it to fruition.

“Stephen was the driving force behind the mentorship program,” said Pierre Joyal, Vice-President. “He was its initial sponsor, the originator of the concept and saw it to fruition. It would not have happened without his commitment and dedication, his work efforts and determination to seeing it through. We are grateful for the work he accomplished and congratulate him on a well-deserved award.”

The Tamarack Award was instituted to recognize members who go “above and beyond the call of duty” in their volunteer work for the Society. Past recipients can be found on the website here: https://indexers.ca/isc-awards/

The Indexing Society of Canada | Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) is Canada’s professional society of indexers. Our mission is to encourage the production and use of indexes, promote the recognition of indexers, improve indexing techniques, and foster communication among individual indexers across Canada. Our vision is “Accessible information; informed people.” Learn more at indexers.ca.