Fall 2007 Conference Summary
October 20, 2007
The 2007 annual fall conference of the New England Chapter of the American Society for Indexing was a full-day event held Saturday, October 20, at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. Twenty-five participants coming from five New England states enjoyed peak fall foliage for the area and a scenic hillside view from the campus' Hogan conference center. The program comprised the full-day indexing workshop "NASCAR Indexing: Creating and Maintaining Speed," Presented by Kate Mertes, along with a lunch and a lunch time NEASI business meeting.
In addition to the main conference, a smaller group of NEASI members joined Kate, who flew up for the weekend from her home in Alexandria, VA, for dinner out at a restaurant in Worcester on Friday night, October 19, and others again joined her for dinner on Saturday evening immediately after the conference.
NASCAR Indexing: Creating and Maintaining Speed
Presented by Kate Mertes
"Time is money, and indexers are business people. We all want to work quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality, " Kate presents her analogy: "NASCAR drivers don't win races because they drive carelessly or cut corners, or because they only drive in easy races. They win because they're good, they're fast, and they're good at being fast. Indexers can do this too."
Kate divided her presentation into three parts, although the first two were more or less introductory, and the third, longer, portion provided lots of tips. Part I was titled the Philosophy of Speed and provided reasons for speed, anecdotes, and example from personal experience.
Part II was titled "Baseline Requirements for Speed in Indexing" which includes requirements such as experience, comfort, continuing education, goals, and scheduling. Kate stated her basic philosophy as "Organize, organize, organize - and go with the flow." This part of the workshop also included a form for calculating current speed and setting speed goals, based on annual salary, hourly rate, page rate, and pages indexed per hour. Kate openly shared her own rates and annualized salary as inspiring goals for the listeners.
Part III "Speed Skills, Tips, and Practices" presented a total of 23 points for increasing speed. Kate explained that originally her list was of just 16 points, but other experienced indexers shared their advice with her. While most of the points had to do with specific techniques of indexing, such as cross-referencing and double-posting, others had to do with overall time management, such as when to start new projects and the suggestion of taking a speed-reading course. For a couple of these points, Kate led the group in exercises. She passed out various book chapters to each of the five tables to work on as a group. As her focus is scholarly indexing, the texts were somewhat challenging.
This popular workshop has been given in ASI chapters all over the country and at ASI national conferences, and this time the workshop in Worcester was being video-taped by ASI so that even more ASI members could have access to the workshop by purchasing the video.
Kate Mertes is sole proprietor of Mertes Editorial Services. Since 1998, she has provided indexing, information retrieval, and editorial expertise for complex, challenging projects in law and the humanities. Kate took her B.A. degree in medieval studies, a Ph.D. in medieval history, and a post-doctoral degree in theology, and after teaching at the university level for several years moved into publishing with a stint at Oxford English Dictionaries. She worked nine years as a managing editor of indexing with Research Institute of America. Kate served on the ASI Board from 1998 to 2004 and is a past president of ASI and a founding fellow of the Consortium of Indexing Professionals.
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