On Thursday through Saturday, June 16 – 18, 2016, ASI & ISC/SCI (Indexing Society of Canada/Société canadienne d’indexation) held a joint conference at Conference Chicago at University Center, a full-service conference facility. Several members of the Heartland Chapter were among the approximately 140 attendees. There were also attendees from various other countries including Scotland, Australia, South Africa, Turkey and Egypt.
Thursday was arrival day for the Heartland indexers, and we took advantage of some free time to go on our own impromptu 45-minute tour of Chicago Public Library, the world’s largest public library at the time of its opening in 1991. We managed to visit all nine floors and made it a point to view the art displayed throughout the library. Library employees were happy to chat with us about the library.
Indexer/author Larry Sweazy asked the questions: Are indexers born or made? Are writers born or made? Sweazy is the author of twelve novels, including two featuring the crime-solving freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine. He has indexed over 800 books. He shared some of his life experiences with the audience to demonstrate what contributed to his evolution as an indexer and author, recalling his childhood stays with his grandparents that were filled with gardening, crossword puzzles, and rules about where things belong. He held various jobs over the years to earn a living while submitting stories and novels to publishers, but it was his job at Macmillan Publishing in Indianapolis that was a lucky break that gave him a connection to the publishing world and the people who work in it. Sweazy’s presentation encouraged us to consider what has made each of us an indexer.
Sourcebooks founder and CEO Dominique Raccah gave an optimistic prediction for the future of print book publishing, noting that the Sourcebooks line of personalized books (Put Me in the Story) have provided transformative revenue growth for the Sourcebooks company. She brought several books for the audience to look at and discussed the concept of augmented reality (AR) in books which expands and enhances the experience of reading. Raccah is a poetry lover and conceived the idea of the Poetry Speaks books that combine audio and text, making an interactive experience for children. I like to think that active ebook indexes are the indexer’s contribution to augmented reality in books.
In this collegial atmosphere we attended presentations on wide-ranging topics. It was hard to choose with so many options, but ebook indexing was on my learning to-do list, so I made sure to attend the two-part program, Enter the Matrix: eBook Indexing. This workshop looked at options for indexing content that will be output in multiple formats, including ebook formats (EPUB and Kindle), PDF, HTML and print. The Matrix Group introduced tools for ebook indexing decision making, and presented scenarios that considered possible workflows and indexing approaches. Mentoring and Being Mentored reminded us of the importance of supportive and encouraging relationships between new and established indexers, and To Textbooks, With Love offered techniques for managing the special circumstances that arise in indexing textbooks.
Some of the Heartland Indexers were able to get away to an outdoor concert at Millennium Park Saturday night, and several of us enjoyed the Chicago Architectural Foundation boat tour on Sunday morning.
Downtown Chicago was hot and busy, filled with construction, and always compelling. Though Chicago may be best known as “the windy city,” I’m drawn to a lesser-known nickname: “the city of the big shoulders” from Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago.” Sandburg’s Chicago is dynamic and defiant:
Building, breaking, rebuilding…”
Walking this imposing and energetic city to and from the train station, to various events and attractions, was an unforgettable part of our experience at the conference.