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The LLLI Web Site:
A New Tool for Helping Mothers and Managing Your Group

Sue Ann Kendall, LLLI Web Site Manager
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 33 No. 5, August-September 1997, pp. 81-85

More and more households around the world have access to the Internet and the World Wide Web. In fact, the segment of society gaining computer access most rapidly is women. Because a growing number of these women are breastfeeding mothers, all Leaders, even those who don't have access to this technology, may want to become familiar with the online breastfeeding help available. And even the most Web-savvy Leader may not realize how many useful LLLI resources are accessible at the press of a button.

As LLLI Web Site Manager and designer of The Leader Connection (TLC) Web site, I'd like to share how you can use the World Wide Web to complement your usual tools for helping mothers and make managing your LLL Group more enjoyable.

All those "http://"s and other computer terms can make the Web seem intimidating but that's true with any new technology. Many of us disliked answering machines at first. Now many Groups and Chapters have central phone lines that help mothers find us. Some of us use an answering machine to answer helping calls so we can return them when it is convenient for our families. Still, an answering machine is optional; many Leaders don't have one.

The same is true for email and Web access. While they are convenient and useful for some Leaders, they are not essential. They are just a new optional Leader tool. Let's see how easy it is to provide information to mothers and improve our leading and managing skills if we choose to make use of LLLI online resources.

Locating the LLLI Web Site

You will find LLLI Web pages-all 750+ of them-at the following URL (Universal Resource Locator or Web address):

Feel free to publicize it! You can put it on Series Meeting notices, business cards and correspondence. Kathy Koch, Leader in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, says, "I also put the LLLI Web URL in my newsletters, so everyone sees it."

All of the topics discussed in this article can also be found on the LLLI Web site home page, which features a bulleted list of the types of information we provide. It's easy and fun to find just what you need to help mothers in your area.

Helping Mothers Via the LLLI Web Site

Sometimes mothers need written information immediately, before a helpful LLL publication can arrive in the mail or before they can access the Group Library. Other times, mothers just need to know that others with similar experiences have succeeded at breastfeeding. Suggesting reading material on the Web can whet a mother's appetite for LLLI-published books and other materials.

LLLI FAQ Pages - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about breastfeeding are great resources to recommend to mothers who do not wish to attend meetings or talk to a Leader by phone. FAQ pages give short answers to many common breastfeeding situations along with encouragement to learn more from LLLI publications and a local Leader. Many of us have personal friends and acquaintances who are not "joiners" but would benefit from LLLI's message.

As LLLI Public Relations Director, Trisha Noack, observes, "Many mothers who are 'afraid' of LLL use the Web to sample us. They are delighted with what they find and then make real contact with us."

Karen Zeretzke, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, Leader and member of the FAQ Committee reports, "I've had many thank-yous from families who found this information helpful. They were glad to be reassured that what they were experiencing was normal."

NEW BEGINNINGS Archives - A mother who needs to know that she isn't alone in her situation can find great comfort in browsing through NEW BEGINNINGS articles arranged by topic. You can also let Group attendees know about them too; those new to LLL or those considering membership can see the wonderful material that has appeared in past editions of our member journal.

Materials in Languages Other Than English - The collection includes translations of NEW BEGINNINGS articles as well as original material written for the Web pages. Currently we have items in Spanish and Italian, along with links to LLL Web pages in German, Dutch, French and Hebrew. English translations of most titles are provided so a Leader can easily direct a mother to material in her language just right for her situation.

LLL Group Web Site Index - This page lists meeting and Leader information for Groups, Areas and Affiliates. There are now close to 150 Group pages in 38 US states and 14 countries. The index is a handy resource for finding a Group if a mother moves or wants to attend a meeting when traveling. When a well-meaning family member calls on behalf of a relative in another town, we can encourage direct mother-to-mother support by giving them the number of a nearby Leader.

Legal Issues - This section, compiled by LLLI Legal Advisor Liz Baldwin, can reassure mothers with custody issues, concerns about the legality of public breastfeeding, problems with breastfeeding in the workplace, or the status of current breastfeeding legislation. Since giving legal advice does not fall within the scope of mother-to-mother help, this Web resource makes it easy to help mothers and stay within the limits of giving information rather than advice.

Search Engine - Recently implemented on the LLLI Web site, the search engine allows you to type in a word or phrase and see a hypertext link to every file on the entire LLLI site. A little of the context appears as well so you can tell if the citation is relevant. You can click on the links to relevant pages and go right to the material without going through all the Web menus. Since the LLLI Catalogue is indexed, you can quickly see which publications match the topic you're interested in.

Other LLLI Web Services

Chats - Mothers who are unable to attend Series Meetings due to scheduling conflicts, bedrest or other reasons can find mother-to-mother support at "virtual" meetings via the LLLI site. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) meetings on the LLLChat channel began in May 1997 while meetings for America Online (AOL) subscribers via Parent Soup have been going on since 1996. All a mother needs to participate is chat software. The chat section of the Web site has instructions and a complete schedule of chats [plus updated information]. (See related article.)

Help Forms - One-to-one, a mother can ask a Leader a breastfeeding question by filling out a Help Form on the LLLI Web site. More than 100 volunteer Leaders around the world help mothers this way, suggesting a local LLL contact whenever possible. We can encourage mothers to use the Help Form when they are unable to reach a Leader and we can ask mothers we know to tell their isolated or shy friends about it. (See related article.)

Online LLLI Catalogue - Ordering is easy any time of day, even when your toddler has just torn up your order form. The complete catalogue is there! You can let Group members know that they can refer family and friends to the online catalogue for great baby, birthday and holiday gift ideas, too.

Educational Materials - This section lists the seminars, conferences and other educational programs LLLI administers. It can be used to show health care providers the opportunities that LLLI offers. Many are impressed that LLLI has "high tech" computer resources, giving our organization credibility in their eyes. Links to information on Breastfeeding Resource Centers, the Lactation Specialist Workshops, Physicians' Seminars, LLLI Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program, the Center for Breastfeeding Information and other programs are provided.

Managing the Group

Now that we've looked at ways in which the LLLI Web site can help you help mothers, we can turn to managing the LLL Group effectively and efficiently. The new LLLeaderWeb area, a site within a site, contains information just for LLL Leaders.

LEAVEN Article Database - Here you'll find more than 60 inspirational and informative articles from back issues of LEAVEN. Use the search service to find exactly what you are interested in: fundraising, leading meetings, parenting and more.

This database is also an invaluable tool when working with Leader Applicants. Even if you don't have a large collection of back issues, you can find plenty of material to share on the Web. Feel free to encourage Applicants to browse for themselves, too. Reading the collected wisdom of so many Leaders is one of the best ways to help an Applicant explore LLL philosophy and gather leading and managing ideas.

LLLI Group Bibliography - The most up-to-date listing of books recommended by the LLLI Book Evaluation Committee is available here; new titles are added as they are reviewed. Georgeanne Mattise, Leader in Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA, reports that their Group's Leader Applicant found the immediate availability of the list helpful in both her preparation for leadership and Group Librarian work. A friend of LLL interested in donating a book can use the list as well. Groups are assured they can add the book to their Library; donors can use the handy online LLLI Catalogue to order. (Ed. Note: Recommended books may vary in Affiliates.)

Green Sheet - This is a cyber-version of the Green Sheet, a list of items sold by LLL Groups around the world. Here you will find Group supplies, meeting ideas, gift ideas and more. Information for listing your Group's sale items is also included.

Area Conference Listing - browse through the list of recent and future Area Conferences for theme and speaker ideas. You can even find out if a place you plan to visit will hold a conference during the time you will be there.

World Walk for Breastfeeding Resources - There are ideas for publicizing the World Walk, information on past Walks and hints to make your Walk the best ever!

Future Developments

We hope to eventually add online Enrichment Meetings to LLLChat and perhaps chats that focus on particular issues. We love to receive suggestions for additions and improvements to the LLLI Web site and LLLeaderweb. Contact the LLLI Website Team.

This whirlwind tour of LLLI resources on the World Wide Web is just an introduction. Leaders can find helpful information on the Web, although some may not find it appealing. For example, Chats and Help Forms are not for everyone, nor should they be.

As with other aspects of our organization, Leaders are encouraged to take from the Web what is useful to them and to leave the rest. THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING and the LEADER'S HANDBOOK are Leaders' primary tools for helping mothers and managing Groups. Nonetheless, it is exciting to realize that Leaders can also look to Web sites for useful supplementary information.

Group Web Pages

Thousands of mothers look for a local Group on the LLLI Web site Group Index. All you need to do to get information about your Group listed is check with your local support person and every Group Leader who will be listed. Just send Sue Ann Kendall your meeting information via email or regular mail/post (snail mail).

Web pages have been made for Groups, Chapters, Districts, Areas and Affiliates. Groups can also make their own, provided they follow LLLI guidelines (on LLLeaderWeb or available by email).

Since most Group pages are hosted by Prairienet, a free-net in Illinois, USA, we need to keep them small. If you need a large Web site, say for an Area or Affiliate, we will be happy to assist you but it is better if you find your own host for your pages.

Group Web pages do bring mothers to your meetings! Amy Shelton, a Leader in Huntsville, Alabama, USA, and Coordinator of LLLChat says, "The Group Web page is a wonderful source of publicity for our Group. And best of all-it's free!"

For more information on Group Web pages, contact the LLL Website team.

Ed. Note: Guidelines for Group Web pages in Affiliates may vary.

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