American Society for Indexing Conference

I recently attended the annual conference for the American Society for Indexing (ASI) in San Antonio, Texas.  Held at the Hotel Contessa on the San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk, the keynote address was given on Thursday, April 18th by Judith Pascoe, Professor at the University of Iowa and author of “My Last Index.”  Prof. Pascoe gave an entertaining and humorous speech that detailed “The Secret Lives of Indexers.”  She explored index cards, indexing villainy, indexing artistry, and indexing in Barbara Pym novels.

Prof. Pascoe started out by giving historical background on indexing, in which indexers would index on index cards.  Indexers would write one subject heading on each index card and then sort them alphabetically.

“The index card is a symbol of the neat orderly work that indexers carry out in a world that is neat and opaque,” she said.

Describing the conventional stereotype of an indexer, she pointed out the main character in Barbara Pym’s novel, No Fond Return of Love.  She quoted passages from the novel in giving a picture of the secret life of this indexer.

She eluded to the theme of the ASI annual conference, “The Art and Craft of Indexing,” in portraying indexing as an art and a craft.  More than a technical endeavor, indexing is crafting an artistic work, she emphasized.

“Indexing is a door opening into a new world like Dorothy stepping forth into Oz,” she concluded.

Future blog postings will cover other workshop sessions at the ASI annual conference.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,

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