See Also — April 2017

April brings tax season. Once you complete that task, what’s your favorite spring activity? This month’s Spotlight indexer loves cooking. Check out the index in the historic cookbook below.

ASI Conference: Beacon by the Bay in Portland, Maine
Hines Award Call for Nominations
Elections for the Board of Directors
ASI history essay updated
Book history: They put the index where?
In memorium
Chapter News
Other Association News—National Indexing Day
Spotlight—Janet Perlman

ASI Conference: Beacon by the Bay in Portland, Maine

Join us June 15–17 in Portland, Maine, for the annual conference. Register before April 30 to get the best rate.

In addition to the conference sessions, there will be plenty of networking opportunities, two receptions, and an awards banquet. Information about the program and conference schedule are posted here.

Be sure to make your hotel reservation when you register for the conference. Special rates are guaranteed through April 30.

Hines Award Nominations due by April 15

The deadline to submit nominations for the Hines Award is April 15. This award honors a member who has made exceptional contributions to ASI and the indexing profession. Read nomination details here.

Elections for the Board of Directors

Voting has begun for the ASI Board of Directors and will remain open until April 30. The candidates are Devon Thomas for president-elect, Lisa DeBoer for secretary, and Joan Shapiro for director at large. ASI members, please sign in on the ASI website to read the candidates' biographies and mission statements and to vote.

ASI history essay updated

Without looking, do you know when ASI was formed? ASI archivist Peter Rooney has updated his essay “A Brief History of the American Society for Indexing,” which you can read online or download as a PDF.

Book history: They put the index where?

ASI president Diana Witt and her husband visited a collection of rare cookbooks in January and shared this photo of the Settlement Cookbook, which used to be a mainstay in 20th century American cooking. This edition from 1930 had the index in front of the book, right after the table of contents (which, curiously, is in alphabetical order). Each letter had a little tab, allowing the reader to go directly to the letter they wanted.

In Memoriam

We have recently learned that ASI member Margaret Garrett of Paoli, Pennsylvania, passed away in January. Our condolences to her husband John and the other family members.

Left to right: Paula Unger, Ken Hassman, Theresa Duran, Claire Splan, Tessa Avila, Susan Storch, DeAnna Tibbs

Chapter News

Golden Gate Chapter Lunch

Sunday, March 26, 12:00 p.m.
Berkeley, CA

On Sunday, March 26, 2017, seven Northern California indexers gathered at a community room in Berkeley to eat pizza and talk shop. The attendees included a mix of experienced indexers and those hoping to break into the field. Most were from the Bay Area, but two traveled from outlying cities, Sacramento and Monterey.

News from Other Associations

SI Indexing Day

The first ever National Indexing Day was celebrated in the UK on March 30, 2017. This year is the diamond anniversary of the British Society of Indexers (SI). They decided to celebrate the date of their foundation by designating it as a day to raise awareness of our profession and the value of a good index. Because of their efforts, there was an article in the Guardian newspaper about the value of indexing, along with some other articles on the subject in various media outlets. A list is provided below. Some of the articles are really fun and provide good material for marketing and making the case for the value of indexing. Please congratulate any British indexing colleagues you may know for their wonderful effort. Enjoy!

Sam Leith has written an article promoting the Society for The Guardian.

Moyra Forrest in The Scotsman

Porter Anderson in Publishing Perspectives

Dennis Duncan in the Times Literary Supplement

On Facebook see Stephen Gilbert's page

Paula Clarke Bain article

Publishing Professionals Network

The annual conference of the Publishing Professionals Network will take place on Friday, April 21, 2017, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio. This year’s theme is “Job or Vocation? Publishing as a Way of Life.” The daylong event will feature panel discussions and interactive roundtables focused on the career challenges of today’s book publishing professionals.

In its fourth year, the conference has established itself as the annual “meet‐up” for the book community in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Those interested in the conference can review the program and register.


This month an experienced indexer, Janet Perlman, was the first to answer the call for a chance to be in the spotlight. If you would like to nominate someone for the spotlight (or be in it yourself), contact the editor, AElfwine Mischler, at

Where do you live? Where are you originally from? Do you share your home with pets or family?
We live in Phoenix, nestled in the hilly northern suburbs. We’re three in the house — me, my husband, and our son. We don’t have pets. I was born and brought up in New York City.

What is your educational background?
I have a B.S. in Chemistry from Queens College (City University of New York) and an M.A. in Management/Organizational Behavior from the University of Phoenix, which I acquired in my 50s.

Do you have any hobbies, travels, volunteer work, or other interesting things to share?
If I’m not indexing, you’ll probably find me in the kitchen. Cooking is my big hobby. I also love working on 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. We do them most evenings, instead of watching TV. Of course, I love to read and listen to classical music. And I love my backyard/patio at home, and love to garden back there. My husband lovingly planted and tends more than a dozen rose bushes, which is quite a feat, as it’s very difficult to keep roses healthy and lush in the desert. They’re beautiful. My backyard is my little slice of heaven—it’s so peaceful.

What kind of work did you do before you studied indexing? Are you still doing that or other work in addition to indexing? When did you start indexing? When did you join ASI?
I started out life in New York City, with a degree in chemistry and a lot of minor in literature and language. My first job was as editorial assistant for Crowell Collier Macmillan on their Collier’s Encyclopedia, editing science articles. A few years later I took a similar job at John Wiley & Sons, editing advanced science monographs and science encyclopedias. I became an editorial supervisor there. They taught me to prepare indexes as part of my job (manually, on index cards — no computers yet), and ended up with a few private clients also. After the birth of our children and a move from New York to Phoenix, I was at home with the children for a few years, and then went back to work doing accounting and administrative work for the City of Phoenix. I didn’t do any indexing during those years, but I missed it and was unfulfilled with that job, so I started building my indexing business about halfway through my 12 years at the City. With the advent of indexing software, that became an interesting possible career in the future. I spent about 4 years working full-time at the City and indexing at night, and finally quit the City job to go full-time freelance. It was the best decision of my life. I’ve been indexing full-time as Southwest Indexing since 1993.

For you, what is the best advantage of ASI membership?
When I started returning to indexing, in the late 1980s, indexing software and the Internet were in their infancy, and it seemed feasible to work freelance without the drudgery of handwriting (or typing) index cards. I investigated the software (Macrex, at the time), learned about ASI, and decided to attend ASI conferences to make contacts and to get to know other experienced indexers. A few indexers I met were particularly wonderful and took me under their wing and mentored me. The ASI workshops at conferences were golden—they helped me perfect my technique and lose some bad habits. I also met some new clients at ASI national conferences and California chapter meetings that I went to, and the rest is history.

I have always been very indebted to ASI for all the help I received from other indexers and for the education I got at conferences, and have tried to do the same for new indexers. I enjoy writing for ASI and mentoring and passing on wisdom and answering questions for the newer indexers.

Even though I am a very experienced indexer, ASI still has a role in my professional life. First of all, the webinars are a wonderful continuing source of professional development. I still enjoy going to conferences where I am surrounded by other indexers. I enjoy the camaraderie and swapping stories. The friendships and contacts I make at conferences eventually yield referrals and quick pick-up jobs for colleagues who get work that they can’t fit into their schedule. The networking continues to be invaluable. I can’t imagine life as an indexer without my professional organization of my peers.

What do you consider the most challenging aspect of the work?
The most challenging aspect of indexing is the scheduling part – allotting sufficient time for the indexing work, dealing with sliding (and sometimes colliding) schedules.

Where do you usually work?
I can only work in my office. Alternative locations just don’t work for me. I don’t concentrate well in cafes or airports. And I can’t work on the patio either. I daydream instead. I need the structured atmosphere of my office and my desk to do my best work.

What are your indexing areas of specialty? Do you work in a foreign language?
I love to index science and technology materials, and textbooks especially, although I’m not too fond of medical books. I’m pretty much of a generalist, though. I’m also bilingual and fluent in Spanish. Almost half my work is in Spanish. That was the result of learning Spanish as a child.

It’s an interesting story. My parents were both Spanish-speaking—my Mom because she lived in Cuba for 10 years due to immigration quotas while emigrating from Russia to the United States, and my Dad because he studied Spanish in college. As a chemical engineer in the sugar industry, my father’s work took him to Cuba, where he trained and did quality control in sugar mills all around the island. While he was in the boonies, Mom and kids were living in Havana, where she still had a large family. We spent months of each year living in a residential hotel in Havana, and I went to private school and of course learned Spanish. I spent my childhood half in the U.S. and half in Cuba.

After Castro’s revolution, trips like that went away, but it left me with a love of Cuba and its foods, music, and language. During my mid-career years as an indexer, when a client asked if I knew anybody who worked in Spanish, my knowledge of Spanish became important professionally, and my specialty grew from there. The demographics today drive a lot of publishing toward Spanish textbooks and Spanish translations of trade books, cookbooks, and bestsellers. I’m happy to be able to service this niche market and love my Spanish work.

Ælfwine Mischler serves as the editor of See Also. Reach her at

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