Newbie Conference Reports:
What We Learned at the ASI conference
by Shana Milkie and Wanda Dietrich
This was my first ASI conference. Iâ€™m very glad I went!
First off, while of course this wasnâ€™t a vacation, I would say that the social aspects of the conference are very important. We all know how isolating an occupation indexing is (and I suspect most of us rather like it that way most of the time), but it was a real pleasure to meet other people who do this weird thing that I do too.
During the shuttle bus ride on the way back to the airport, I was chatting with my fellow passengers. We got to talking about indexing, and one man said, "Wow. Iâ€™m going to write this in my journal. I met an indexer today!"
The two concepts that keep reverberating in my head came from the work- shops by Bella Hass Weinberg and Do Mi Stauber. Dr. Weinberg led an extensive discussion on the difference between aspects of and subclasses of a topic. In most cases, you want to make subheadings for aspects of a topic and cross-references, if necessary, to the sub- classes of a topic. For example, for "fruit," subclasses are "apples," "oranges," etc., and aspects are "nutrition from, "preserving," etc. Do Mi Stauberâ€™s workshop included discussion of her two rules:
â€¢Do Miâ€™s first rule: "If youâ€™re picking it up, pick it up." This means that any entry in the index must include ALL references to that topic.
â€¢Do Miâ€™s second rule: "Make subentries only as necessary for breaking down the main entry, not for intrinsic worth." (At times, you may have duplicate page numbers for subentries if they cover different aspects of the main heading.)
All the workshops I took were wonderful. I highly recommend any of the instructors: Bella Hass Weinberg, Do Mi Stauber, Marilyn Rowland, David Ream, and Peg Mauer.
This was my first conference, and I am glad I went.
Because it was rather expensive I packed my days with as many workshops and presentations as I could. I didnâ€™t feel that socializing just for the fun of it was a good investment. I did eat meals with other indexers, though, and thoroughly enjoyed "talking shop" to people who actually know what indexing is all about. Wonderful. Seeing the sights was limited to what I could glimpse on the way to and from the airport.
The Editorâ€™s Luncheon was something of a bust for me, as I was one of those who ended up without a table, much less an editor (at least for a while). We finally did get seated, and we did get to speak with an editor who gave us tips on working with editors.
All my workshops were good. Because of scheduling conflicts I was unable to make Do Mi Stauberâ€™s "Facing the Text" workshop, but was able to pick up the next best thing by working with her in a different workshop, "Evaluating Scholarly Indexes." Next time, Iâ€™m going to schedule my attendance around Do Miâ€™s presentation.
I must have learned quite a bit in the Resume Writing workshop with Susan Hernandez, since I spent an entire day after the Conference spiffing up my resume and cover letter. I feel much better about my mailings now. That alone should justify the cost of the conference, if it results in more jobs.
I left Boston with the overstuffed feeling one gets after Thanksgiving dinner (yes, I over-ate, but I also over-learned). Now that my brain has digested most of the information, I feel that Iâ€™m a much better indexer and that Iâ€™m on track in this rather odd career.