A Good Index is a Thing of Beauty

I remember indexing class at Queens College’s MLIS program: it was called "GSLIS 743, Indexing, Abstracting, and Other Access Systems,"  met for three hours a week and was filled with about 40 individuals who just wanted to get through the course and on their ways to more interesting things.  Over the course of the semester we learned (or, more correctly, were exposed to) a ton of theory on the organization of text-based data, analysis of categorization techniques and pattern generation tricks for document analysis. And, there was a final exam in which we had to build a small database to include search terms for a number of disparate documents.

I did pretty well in the class since I had a bit of a leg up on the situation–I was already original-cataloging an average of six grey lit documents a day, so deriving search terms from content was easy for me. I do remember that most of the lectures focused on doing the work according to search terms rather than concentrating on the final product of the work, the index itself.

Which made me read this article, where Enid Stubin recounts her time in "Bartlebyland", a.k.a. Sydney Wolfe Cohen Associates, located in a warren of rooms on lower Fifth Avenue, with my full attention.  It describes an aspect of the trade to those of us who concentrated on other things in library school and afterward that we’re unlikely to see in similar detail.

Thanks to LewRockwell.com for this link.  Enjoy!

About Jon Frater

A gaming industry stalwart dating back to the 1980s, Jonathan Frater is the co-author of roleplaying game books Robotech: Return of the Masters, and Robotech Adventures: Lancer's Rockers, both for Palladium Books. Jonathan also wrote a column on writing and game design called The Tome in Gateways magazine. He's currently a librarian at Metropolitan College of New York. Article 9, the first in his ambitious Blockade Trilogy, is Jonathan's first full-length novel.

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