“Sanitation through Innovation: the Tube Sock Toilet — Congo 1997” Wouldn’t that be fun to read! Or, “Peace Corps Tunisia: The Legacy 1962–1996 — Tunisia 1996”; or “Botswans: Preservice Training Re-entry Group 2 Final Technical Report, May 04 — Botswana”; or, “Peace Corps Tunisia: The Legacy 1962-1996 — Tunisia 1996”; or “Reflecting Life: A Workshop on HIV/AIDS Education and Awareness — Thailand 2004.” These are just a sample of a wide range of field generated materials found in the Peace Corps’ Information Collection and Exchange or ICE. Field generated materials are those created in the field by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers.
Since the beginning, Peace Corps has provided technical information from all sources to Volunteers in the field. Sometimes this service was provided within the Publication and Information Center or PIC, sometimes within the Peace Corps Library. In 1975, this function was formalized as the Information Collection and Exchange or ICE. One of the major tasks of the new staff was to solicit Volunteer participation and (re)gain their support in technical information exchange, according to an internal memo. Materials created by PCVs were gathered and included in the collection.
When Peace Corps left the ACTION agency in the early ’80s, its organization was evaluated to make sure it was meeting its new responsibilities. In 1982, Director Rupert requested a survey of Volunteers and staff to determine if ICE and the Peace Corps Library should be combined. The survey:
found field staff and PCVs viewed ICE as having “dedicated,” “responsive”, “industrious” staff who provided needed information and services to the field. The praises from the field attest to ICE staff’s competency and to their significant contributions to overseas operations.
As a result, ICE remained separate from the Peace Corps Library. It remains so, today.
The ICE Catalog 2009, Publication No. RE001 describes the mission and activities of ICE this way:
The ICE Mission Statement
to provide and contribute to the Peace Corps as a learning and sharing organization by providing reference and technical information services. We enhance our client’s abilities to work with community partners in achieving development goals through information distribution, using the most relevant technology available.
What does ICE do?
- Disseminates technical publications worldwide, via mail and online delivery, to every Peace corps Volunteer and staff member
- Manages the review and purchase of resources for inclusion in the ICE Catalog.
- Collaborates with OPATS to write, edit, and design original Peace Corps resources in appropriate media.
- Serves as the locus of programming and training knowledge management for the office of Overseas Programming and Training Support
- Supports Information Resource Centers (IRCs) at Peace Corps posts and conducts training in resource center management
- Collects and maintains Peace Corps publications
In addition to the published materials listed in the ICE Catalog, ICE also maintains a list of Field Generated Materials, or materials developed by Peace Corps Volunteers and staff in the field. Most of these materials are recent, but there are a limited number that date back to the earliest days of Peace Corps. This list is only representative, not comprehensive.
These reference and technical information services are designed for the use of Volunteers in the field. They may be available to the RPCV community as well as the general public through the Freedom of Information Act. The process would be to request the ICE catalog and/or the list of Field Generated Materials via a FOIA request. After reviewing the catalog and/or list, a FOIA request could then be made for specific items. There might be copyright or other legal considerations that would prevent Peace Corps from fulfilling the request. The FOIA response would say so if this were the case.
Today, ICE continues as vital component of Peace Corps Washington’s support to Volunteers.