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Donating LLLI Publications

Nancy Spahr, LAD Director
LLLI Leader Accreditation Department
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 36 No. 4, August-September 2000, p. 81

Dear LLLI,

I hope you can answer this question definitively for me. What is LLLI's position on the use of and the donation of the 1991 edition of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING? Is it permissible to donate these to local maternal clinics and libraries?

Mary McGhee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA

Dear Mary,

Thank you for your letter. This is a question that many Leaders have had over the years. There is no LLLI policy on the use and donation of earlier editions of published materials such as THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING or BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK. THE LEADER'S HANDBOOK offers no guidance on this matter either. LLLI relies on Leaders to make the best decision for their particular situation. That's why we're glad that you have raised this question, Mary, so that we can discuss the options and implications to provide a foundation for each Leader to make a decision about how to treat older editions of LLLI publications.

There is no LLLI policy that says the books could not be donated. This is a question that is best answered by looking at the pros and cons of each situation individually, in consultation with your Professional Liaison Leader or other appropriate support person, as needed. Areas and Affiliates may have their own policies on such donations, and questions about those policies need to be directed to the appropriate Area, Division, or Affiliate personnel.

Initial Considerations: Some initial questions to ask are: What information is out of date in the book? Does the good of donating the books outweigh any concerns about the information in the book? Where are the books going? Is the donation a response to a genuine need from a community organization?

In looking at any book that has several editions, it is helpful to be able to compare the old and the new. Some newer editions have relatively minor changes while others are significant.

Reasons to Use Only the Most Recent Edition: Many Leaders feel it is important to take out-of-date materials out of circulation to ensure that the information available is the most current. This is especially important for technical or clinical materials in which new studies or information may significantly add to a health professional's understanding of breastfeeding. If there is a proliferation of breastfeeding materials available in a Leader's community, she would be doing LLL a disservice by distributing outdated information.

Devorah Schesch-Wernick, International Division Professional Liaison Administrator, argues strongly for distributing only the most current information available: "Information that has become out of date or changed from an earlier edition of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, if used as a source to make a decision, could potentially be harmful to a nursing newborn or nursing child." Leader Ksenjia Soster-Olmer also voices concern: "Leaders in countries where LLL is newly established are in a difficult position trying to prove their professionalism to mothers and the medical community. Outdated or invalid information in older books tarnishes their credibility and image."

When the information is likely to be translated and passed on in some form, it is essential to have the most current materials at hand. It may be some time before additional translations take place and we would hope that the information shared is the most current.

The financial implications for LLLI are relevant, too. Before donating, it is always wise to find out if the library, clinic, or other beneficiary would be willing to purchase the most current edition from your Group. By doing this, everyone wins. If this is not an option, does your Group have the means to donate the most current edition? Some Groups are able to secure grants or other sources of funding to make copies available to local clinics or even to every new mother at the local hospital.

Reasons to Consider Donating Outdated Materials: In looking at whether or not some information is better than no information, the Leader is in the best position to assess this. Is there a very real need to get basic information in the hands of clinicians now and will this donation help? Is the WIC or health clinic willing to take the old manuals as a donation but not willing (or able) to purchase newer ones? Are you giving an old manual to a friend with whom you will be talking about breastfeeding in more detail? Are you selling it at a garage sale to a mother who may use this as her only resource? For basic breastfeeding information a mother may be looking for, having the most current edition may be less of a concern than it would be for a health professional.

If the purchase of the newest edition is not possible, you may want to make note inside the donated book and/or include a cover letter explaining that this is the 5th edition and for the most current copy, contact the local Leader or LLLI. If possible, it would be helpful to give specific information about what important changes have been made in subsequent editions. Or, instead of donating to a clinic, you may wish to give the older edition to a mother in the Group who has never been able to purchase her own copy and would appreciate having one.

LLL of New Zealand takes a flexible approach as described by Administrator of Publications Isobel Fanshawe: "LLLNZ has sent early editions of the BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK to the Pacific Islands, but usually donations within New Zealand would be done by Groups that have obtained funding and the items then would be new ones. Sometimes Groups donate old copies of THE WOMANLY ART to Group mothers, but usually only on a one-to-one basis."

For many Groups and Leaders in Africa and Asia, donated materials may be the only materials they have to share. Leaders can contact Area Coordinator of Leaders of particular Areas or contact the International Division Directors to connect materials and Groups or Leaders in need. Elaine Dawson, International Division Co-Director, recalls that one Group brought a boxful of materials to the LLLl Conference in Orlando in 1999 to pass on to the ACL for Future Areas. Leader Donna Nance in Gabon, Africa, writes that most of her Group's library was donated by American Leaders in response to a post she placed on The Leader Connection email list. (Editor's note: For names and addresses of current staff, see LLLI No. 402-20, International Directory and LLLI No. 405-13, LLLI Personnel Directory.)

When donating materials overseas, verify that the material is in an appropriate language for the local community. Rachel O'Leary, International Division Publications Administrator, cautions, "Materials which make LLL seem foreign make it harder for current and future Leaders to communicate La Leche League's welcome to mothers in the community." For example, materials in French are currently needed in Africa, according to Leaders Donna Nance and Laurence Descourtieux in Gabon.

To sum up, each Leader knows the needs of her community and is in the best position to make the final decision. Consulting with support staff may also help her explore her options. It is important that Leaders have the tools needed to make informed choices that fuel their enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity in pursuing La Leche League's mission.

Cynthia Sherar
LLLI Board of Directors
Mahtomedi, Minnesota, USA

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