Many industries have professional organizations that represent the field and the interests of those employed in that area. Indexing is no exception. The American Society for Indexing (ASI) is the U.S.-based professional organization representing both indexers and the field of indexing as a profession.
One of the questions that all professionals must answer for themselves is whether or not membership in such a professional organization has value. Does the fee you pay to become a member come back to you in benefits? Are you supporting something worthwhile? It’s one thing when your employer foots the bill for the membership fee, and another thing when you have to pay it out of your own pocket, as freelancers do.
In a profession dominated by freelancers, it strikes me as especially important to have and be a member of a professional organization. Unlike industries in which major companies can make their voices heard, we freelancers are only individual voices. Our professional organization is the body that pulls those voices together into a choir loud enough to be heard in the industry.
Examples of benefits of the organization certainly include the work being done by the ASI Digital Trends Task Force which is bringing the issue of indexing e-publications to those on the cutting edge of the discussion in the publishing industry. Local and national conferences are another benefit, offering the chance for networking and continued education. Again, in a field populated with people working alone at home, opportunities to learn from one another and develop a pool of colleagues are definite benefits.
As the New England chapter of ASI put on a worthwhile event last weekend, and the national ASI conference is around the corner, I am feeling appreciative of the role that our industry’s professional organization plays.
Whether an individual decides to join a professional organization or not is a personal decision. I encourage those who are not members to consider it. Having a core organization to which to point those interested in indexing – either in becoming an indexer or in hiring an indexer – benefits us all. Thanks to ASI for all they do for our profession.