Whither Goest the Intercultural Communication Institute (ICI) Library?

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The following is based on an interview with Sandra Garrison on June 30, 2022.

The Intercultural Communication Institute (ICI) Library began with 6 boxes of materials from Cliff Clarke who had passed his Stanford Summer Institute to Janet and Milton Bennett in 1987. Sandy Garrison was there when they arrived and her first task as a work exchange student was to unpack the boxes and put the books on a shelf. Voila!  Instant library!

The 6 boxes were soon expanded by material from David Hoopes (first executive director of SIETAR) and the personal books and materials belonging to Janet and Milton. In roughly 6 months, the collection grew to between 2,000 and 3,000 items. It is currently 37,051 items having grown from 6 boxes to 6 rooms.

Many people thought of it as the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC) library since that is where they saw it. The interns were very familiar with it since they were the ones who moved boxes and boxes of books etc. from the ICI offices to Maryhurst College, then to the University of the Pacific in Forrest Grove, and finally to SIIC’s last location, Reed College in Portland, OR. However, the rest of the year it lived at ICI.

Janet had maintained for years that she wanted the library to remain intact, but it was evident that no one location could take everything. Prior to Janet’s passing, Kris Acheson-Clare of Purdue University suggested a different plan. She proposed forming a consortium in which each part would house and make available their share of the vast collection. Janet took to the idea and the consortium began to take shape.

The plan is to create one source or data base, where anyone can access the material. The concept of one-source access is key and immutable. It has been decided that the division of the materials will be by category. Although the exact distribution has not been established, the current members of the consortium are:

  • Christopher Deal at Louisiana Technical College who will take all the audio-visual material: tapes, CDs, cassettes and the like. This includes 18 boxes of tapes from Cliff Clarke containing materials from his work in Japan.
  • Kris Acheson-Clair who will be taking culture-specific materials at Purdue University.
  • Melissa Liles at The Institute for Developing Across Differences (IDD) who will house culture-specific information and historical documents like reports and proceedings.
  • Michaela Carriere at Groningen University in the Netherlands who will be taking all the MAIR (Master’s in Applied Intercultural Relations) theses and more.

The group of consortium members will make decisions regarding the most valuable items in the collection and start with those in their process of scanning and digitizing everything. It is also intended that they will scan on demand, i.e., when a request is received for a specific item, that will be the next thing scanned. An inventory of all the items will be used to help people searching for something specific. Books currently available will be listed but not be digitized since they are accessible elsewhere. Even with that limitation, the size of the collection is daunting and has them talking with and considering new consortium members. 

The big vision is for the existing collection to be a foundation where each country can add their resources to the whole, making it truly intercultural and international. Ideas for crafting this vision are welcome. The question of implementing the nascent vision to create a worldwide resource (library) for the intercultural and DEI fields needs input from many interculturalists with interest and concern.  Sandy Garrison invites you to contact her or the consortium members with your ideas.