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Using Conference Tapes in the Group Library

Debbi Heffern
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 33 No. 6, December 1997-January 1998, p. 131

Have you ever wished you could attend two LLLl Conference sessions at the same time? Have you wished you could take notes faster, making sure you had all the information to take home to Group members? Months later, have you wished you could make better sense of the notes you took?

These were the reasons our Group began an audio tape collection in our Group Library. In the years since, the tape section has become a treasured resource for many more reasons:

  • Some people are auditory learners. They process information better when they hear it.
  • Some mothers have their hands full walking a fussy baby. They can't physically hold a book, yet they need information such as how to cope with a fussy baby.
  • Even a mother who read "everything she could get her hands on" during pregnancy and in her baby's infancy may find that, as her baby becomes more active, there are fewer peaceful moments to curl up with a good book. But she can lie down while nursing and listen to a tape.
  • Women who commute to work can learn about parenting as they travel.
  • Mothers who say their husbands "would never read a book about parenting" often find that tapes are better received. This especially applies to video tapes when the husband is accustomed to getting much of his information from the television.
  • Visually impaired mothers' needs can be met.

Since there are more than 75 audio tapes in our Group Library tape collection, we meet mothers' needs with tapes nearly as well as we do with printed material. Through the development of our collection, we've learned several things.

Remember the intended audience. Strive for a balance of topics and speakers. The interests of a pregnant mother will be different from those of a mother of an eight-month-old, her interests will be different from the interests of a Leader Applicant, the Applicant's interest will be different from the long-time Leader's.

Before choosing tapes for purchase, check with someone who attended the session. Will the session's content be understandable on tape? Some sessions depend on the listener viewing slides or visuals. On the other hand, some speakers explain their slides so completely that the tape audience can still appreciate the points the speaker makes.

Keep the tape collection up-to-date. Ideas for starting a playgroup or cooking on a budget may not change much over the years, but tapes with medical information need to be kept current. Mark each tape with the year the session was recorded to help mothers identify the "time perspective" of the speaker.

The tapes are kept in individual plastic cases inside rigid plastic cases with slots specifically for tapes. Each slot is marked with the name of the tape which belongs in that slot, so we can easily tell which tapes are checked out.

The individual case for each tape is marked with the conference session title, speaker, date and a “return to" statement with a Leader's phone number. Each tape also states the disclaimer from the LLLI Conference program book that “LLLI is not necessarily in agreement with or responsible for the statements made by the speakers at this conference."

Inside the case is a cut-down index card similar to the check-out cards used for library books. We file the index cards with the cards from checked-out books so the librarian can call and remind borrowers to bring the tapes to the next meeting.

Tapes are a delightful way to bring not only the information but the excitement of an LLLI Conference to Group members. The speaker's enthusiasm and tone of voice can convey shades of meaning that could be missed by the printed word. The question and answer period relates varied perspectives. Hearing accents from all around the world reinforces the international aspect of breastfeeding and LLLI.

The next time money is available to expand your Group Library, consider beginning a tape collection. It can be an effective way to bring breastfeeding and parenting information from specialists all over the world to the mothers in your Group.

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