American Society for Indexing Conferences: An Analysis of Major Topics, 1997-2011 Page: 52
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AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INDEXING CONFERENCES
American Society for
An Analysis of Major Topics,
BY CATHERINE SASSEN
Dr. Catherine Sassen is Principal
Catalog Librarian at the University of
North Texas. She holds degrees in Eng-
lish and Library Science.
The American Society for Indexing (ASI) holds
annual conferences to keep members informed of
new developments in indexing technology and the
expanding role of indexing (ASI 2012). Conferences
also facilitate communication among members, pro-
vide educational opportunities, and raise awareness
of quality indexing.
The first annual meeting of ASI was held on the
evening of June 16, 1969, at the Graduate Center
of the City University of New York (Harris 1969,
189-190). The meeting consisted of reports by offi-
cers as well as discussions of old and new business.
Attendees suggested several projects that ASI should
initiate, including a newsletter and "subject- or
In the early years of ASI, an annual meeting was
limited to one evening (Thomas 1989, 125). This
practice continued until 1972 when the First Annual
All-Day Meeting was held (Preschel 1973, 176-179).
This meeting consisted of two sessions on indexing
training courses and one session on the expectations
of indexers and publishers. Since that time, ASI
conferences have increased significantly in length
and content. The most recent conference was held
April 28-30, 2011, in Providence, Rhode Island. The
conference program included four workshops, two
keynote addresses and thirty seminars, with themes
ranging from "How to start a freelance business" to
"Embedded indexing in FrameMaker" (ASI 2011).
The purpose of this article is to identify major
topics discussed at ASI conferences from 1997
through 2011 and to explore how the topics have
changed over time. ASI conference programs reflect
topics of interest to indexers and thus provide
insight into concerns of the profession at large.
Rowley (1981, 16-18) has written about the value
of conference literature and the ways in which it
may be used. Conference literature may summarize
current problems and solutions in a discipline, offer
an understanding of techniques and approaches
in use, and provide insight into new advances and
Several research studies in the field of library and
information science have concerned the content of
conference presentations. Coughlin and Snelson
(1983) and Snelson and Talar (1991) examined the
quality of research presented at selected national
conferences of the Association of College and
Research Libraries. Wilson (2010) analyzed ses-
sions from library conferences in western Canada
over a period of five years to determine their target
audiences. Garner, Davidson and Williams (2008)
studied the North American Serials Interest Group
Conference proceedings from 1986 to 2005 to iden-
tify major topics and trends.
This analysis of ASI conferences from 1997
through 2011 is based on conference reports pub-
lished in Key Words, as well as conference program
information accessed through the "Past Annual Con-
ferences" page on the ASI website. A complete pre-
liminary program for the 2007 conference was not
available on the website, but was accessed through
the author's personal collection. All information
about the 2006 conference was taken from reports
in Key Words because very little information about
that conference was found on the website.
Reports of presentations and poster sessions were
included in the analysis. Types of presentations have
varied over the years, as well as the terms used to
describe them. They included workshops, seminars,
general sessions, breakout sessions, plenary sessions,
question and answer sessions, panels, roundtables,
and keynote addresses. Excluded from the investiga-
tion were reports of awards ceremonies, business
meetings, dinners, receptions, orientations, tours,
software fairs, and one-on-one peer review sessions.
52 APRIL- JUNE 2012
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Sassen, Catherine. American Society for Indexing Conferences: An Analysis of Major Topics, 1997-2011, article, 2012; [Wheat Ridge, Colorado]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc84340/m1/1/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .