November 2009

Kate Mertes

November 2009

It's 3:11 pm on Saturday, just over 24 hours since the press release for the Golden Turkey Award was sent out. So far I have fielded a grand total of 227 emails and around 50 phone calls (I've lost count). About 60 of these have been from ASI members. The rest have been from members of the general public. About 10 percent have been negative; the rest have been positive. The non-ASI members have all wanted to know more about indexing. I knew when it went out that some people would be unhappy. Two people caught a most irritating error I made (indexer for publisher; it's since been fixed on the website posting). Hazel Bell queried whether T. E. Lawrence really refused to have an index in Seven Pillars (read his synopsis to the text to see why one might think that). Some people were disturbed that my name didn't go out on it; that was due to a mixup and I'm sorry for that. I've been called unprofessional, witty, "a pie-faced idiot," brilliant, and any other number of names, good and bad. I repeat: over 200 non-ASI members have contacted me and asked about indexing. That was the point of the award. So I'm very, very happy with the response. Palin produced an historically important book that should have had an index, and didn't. If we don't slap her hand for that, why should anyone else care? And now, on to other things.

H.W. Wilson Company database: The ASI board decided to end a number of licensing agreements with online databases when we discovered that some Key Words content was being offered for free download. This was never the case with Wilson, which values our publications enough that they asked the board to reconsider our decision. After some negotiation, I am happy to announce that we have signed a new licensing agreement with Wilson, one that gives ASI members access to their vast range of databases . This is a really great range of databases, packed with all sorts of information from art history to zoology, and I think you'll find it a valuable member benefit.

Name Change: An organization to which not a few ASI members belong, the Special Libraries Association, is considering a name change: to "Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals." I have heard that this will be left up to a membership vote. I'm not a librarian, so it's hard for me to judge, but this seems to be a pretty radical name change -- especially compared to the very minor adjustment ASI has made to its own title. On the other hand, I am sure the SLA is looking to its future as a profession in proposing this change. I'd be interested to hear what ASI members think about this, especially those who are also SLA members. Please contact me directly at

Board Meeting: The ASI board held its half-yearly meeting on November 13, via teleconference. We read over reports from, and made requested decisions regarding, all the ASI Committees. Our biggest decision has to do with the redesign of the Website. That project has been hung up on a difficult decision we had to make. The current Website operates on a dual platform, and there was some disagreement about whether to move to a single platform mode. In the end the Webmasters held a web conference with I4A, the service provider, and sorted out a number of functionality issues, and we are all now comfortable with moving the redesign forward on a single platform. We are aiming to have at least a beta site available for viewing by the time of the Minneapolis conference in May. The board minutes are being reviewed by board members now, and will be posted on the members' area of the Website as soon as they are approved.

NFAIS Conference: The National Federation of Advanced Information Services has scheduled its 2010 Annual Conference, Redefining the Value of Information: Exploring the New Equation, for February 28 - March 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, PA. The preliminary program and
registration information are available on the new NFAIS website along with the conference press release, hotel information/directions, and information on Philadelphia. Opening with a keynote presentation by Clay Shirky, Internet guru and author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, the conference will take a look at the measures information seekers currently use to define information value and why these measures are important to them. For while credibility, authority, and quality remain key factors, information and technology are now inseparable. As a result, new criteria for defining the value of information products and services have entered the equation. If any ASI member attends this conference, I'm sure we'd all be interested in hearing a report on it. The information/technology nexus is an issue for all of us.


Salary Survey: The raw data from responses to the salary survey has been gathered and is now being analyzed. We received 223 completed surveys out of 775 sent out, a response rate of 29 percent, which I am told is a little better than the average response of 25 percent. Thanks to all of you for that. We are planning to have a report posted in the members' area around the turn of the year.

Silverchair: I've recently been getting a lot of email from a company called Silverchair (, which described itself as deploying ". . .its industry-leading technology and publishing expertise to bring highly useful education, training, and point of care information products to millions of professionals and students in scientific, technical, and medical (STM) disciplines. . .. Content providers require advanced publishing technologies that manage content and distribute it effectively to their customers. Silverchair combines those business objectives with our deep knowledge of STM content to deliver information in highly usable, market-appropriate ways. We enable STM information providers to connect with their specialized audiences through innovative networked information resources. Silverchair's approach allows content owners to optimize content assets and continually develop new ways to expand their market reach." They've had some excellent webinar offerings on search procedures, ebooks, and semantic tagging. If you're interested in embedded indexing or taxonomies you might find a visit to their Website worthwhile to find out more about their educational offerings.


2010 Conference: There are only some 170 days to go before the start of ASI's annual conference in Minneapolis in May 13-15, 2010. The 2010 Conference Committee has received a stellar set of presentation submissions. Topics that address the financial and operational health of your indexing business include fee negotiation (Perlman and Wright ), getting paid (Zafran and panel), working with subcontractors (Schlembach and Shrout), and working with offshore editors (Karpinski, Witt, and panel), among others.
Improve your technical skills by learning about newer techniques required for submitting embedded or non-embedded index entries in InDesign, Word and Framemaker, including a session on using WordEmbed. Learn how to write abstracts or create taxonomies and thesaurI in workshop sessions. A very popular workshop from last year returns with Fred Leise as the "Naked Indexer," but this time accompanied by Margie Towery to compare and contrast their indexing approaches. Kate Mertes is also offering a workshop titled On Aboutness.
We have sessions that chart the course of the indexing life: Indexing for Career-Changers (Weaver), A Year in the Life of a Newbie (Millis), and Confessions of an Award-Winning Indexer (Towery), plus many sessions on techniques you need to employ during the indexing process. There will also be presentations on special large-scale indexing endeavors: the Bible, Pepys' diaries, and the Einstein Papers Project. And so much more.
For example, this year we will have some special programming for Chapter and SIG leaders, although anyone is welcome to attend. And, of course we have arranged after-hours trips, and hope to inject energy and fun into all social events. A full preliminary program will be available by the new year, but it's never too soon to block out the time (May 13-15, 2010) on your calendar and arrange your travel. Get ready to broaden your skill-set, improve your business confidence and performance, see examples of large-scale projects, or simply to take a well-earned break from your own work and connect with other indexers.

Kate Mertes, President, ASI 11/21/2009