MAIstro and the State of Iowa Legislative Services Agency


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A case study of the State of Iowa Legislative Services Agency's use of Access Innovations, Inc.'s MAIstro software to index its Iowa Acts publication. Presented by Kevin W. Boyack of SciTech Strategies, Inc. at the 2012 Data Harmony User Group meeting on February 9, 2012 at the Access Innovations, Inc. offices.

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  • As someone who has been a legal indexer for 25 years, I found your presentation very interesting. I was amazed to see that a card index was still being updated in 2010! What happened to the card index? Hopefully some part of it could have been preserved as a historical artefact.I was involved with the creation of a thesaurus at my company. We used commercially available software, and did a huge "dump" of top level terms into it. We then spent a lot of time just trying to trim it down, before the project was cancelled. Looking back in hindsight, it would have been easier just to work out preferred headings, and then just add them. When we indexed online, we ran the finished indexes against the thesaurus, and any top level terms which were not preferred terms were tagged as not-preferred with XML tagging.
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MAIstro and the State of Iowa Legislative Services Agency

  1. 1. MAIstro and the State of Iowa Legislative Services Agency The journey from paper and “back-of- the-book” indexing to an electronic indexing system and use of a controlled vocabulary
  2. 2. Talking points:• Life before MAIstro and use of a controlled vocabulary• Integration of MAIstro and new XML database• Learning a new way to index• Life after MAIstro• Print publication• Internet search and retrieval• Moving forward and looking ahead…
  3. 3. Life before MAIstro • Wordy index entries with lots of detail and description • Lengthy index: A 300-page index was commonplace for the Iowa Acts book. 2010 Iowa Acts consisted of 1200 pages, with over 300 pages being the index. • Indexing work for our Acts publication consisted of seven staffers and seven months of work. • Because of the amount of work involved, indexing production would delay publication of the Acts book.
  4. 4. Life before MAIstro • Paper printout, editing, and rewrites. Rewrites take time… • Example to the right is a fairly clean edit. Often edit marks would fill page, especially for new indexers • 3 years was typical learning curve for new indexers
  5. 5. Life before MAIstro • Example of recent Iowa Code Index. Yellow highlight indicates “see” and “see also” references. • Common user complaints of confusing “directions” and going in circles. • Such tactics were used to condense index, already around 900 pages.
  6. 6. Life before MAIstro… And we had these too. Up until around 2010, the index for the over 20,000-page Administrative Code wasstill maintained using index cards. Updates were marked in pencil.
  7. 7. Integration of MAIstro and new XML database• Access Innovations collaborated with the Iowa Legislative Services Agency to build a customized thesaurus.• The six-month project utilized Access Innovations’ Data Harmony software suite. The project team created the thesaurus using MAISTRO, a software tool which includes both Thesaurus Master (thesaurus and taxonomy management) and Machine Aided Indexer (M.A.I.).• Thesaurus and controlled vocabulary were integrated as part of indexing interface of new XML-based system.
  8. 8. A new way of indexingCompletely electronic system. Paperless. Indexing terms are “tagged” to XML databasecontent. Tags can be assigned to all types of content. Not restricted by type ofdocument or publication.
  9. 9. A new way of indexingMachine-aided indexing interface. Users can choose top terms or selectother terms from thesaurus. MAIstro runs behind the background.
  10. 10. Life after MAIstro• Previously Iowa Acts indexing was completed in about 7 months with 7 staffers. For the 2011 Iowa Acts, indexing was completed in about 4 weeks with 2 staffers.• Biggest surprise to me: How much time the use of a controlled vocabulary saved. I did not realize how much time we had been spending writing, rewriting, and editing index entries.• Less learning curve for new indexers. In the new system, the concept applies or it doesn’t.• The entire Administrative Code (now in XML database) has indexing terms assigned to its content electronically… No indexing cards to be found.• The possibility now exists to index legislative documents that have not been indexed before.• Indexing for historical documents, current documents, and future documents can evolve and change.
  11. 11. Print publications • Example of 2011 Acts, chapter 3 content. This content is generated without “see refs” (nonpreferred terms) • Interface allows us ability to generate with or without nonpreferred terms
  12. 12. Print publications • This is an example of chapter 3 content with “see refs”. • For a simple output and design, we have restricted our print output to utilize only preferred and nonpreferred terms. • We have debated about accounting for broader, narrower, related terms in print output, but for now we prefer the simpler, streamlined approach.
  13. 13. Print publications • For 2011 Acts, index size was around 60 pages, compared to the 300 some pages of the 2010 Acts index. • Same concepts indexed, but with less level of detail and description. • This same print output and design was also used for our 2011 Code Supplement. Terms used are the same, but output can be stylized to fit publication.
  14. 14. Internet searchThe next phase of development: Use of indexing tags to help users find and retrievedocuments. Combination of document types, indexing tags, keyword, and metadata forsearch criteria. This is currently exposed only in test environment.
  15. 15. Internet searchThis is an example of keyword “doves” coupled with “Iowa Acts” document type. Notechapter 3 indexing tags “Birds, Hunting, Game animals, Doves” cited as RelatedTopic(s).
  16. 16. Moving forward…• One of the fears that my staff had at the start of this journey was that the “machines” might replace the “people”. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred. Because of the ability to index documents so quickly and efficiently with machine-aided tools, we are being asked to do more as an indexing staff.• There is still a lot to learn, and I believe we have only really scratched the surface regarding the true potential of this technology.
  17. 17. Contact information: Roger KarnsLegislative Services Agency 515-242-6459