The Gopher State Tape Library History
Hi my name is Roger Bruner, I am the Director of Gopher State Tape Library, around here I am commonly referred to as “the gopher”. The following talk is a brief history of how G.S.T.L. came to be, what its purpose is, and how it functions and survives today after more than 25 years of service.
The two people directly responsible for this service are my parents, Don & Marion Bruner. Dad sobered up in A.A. in 1968, was very active both at the group and general service level having served both as a Delegate and Trustee for Alcoholics Anonymous in our home state of Minnesota. Pop passed away Nov. 1996. When he passed he had 28 years 10 months of continuous sobriety and service to A.A. His life and family had been restored to him, he was forever grateful to god and A.A.
Mom is still alive and doing very well at 85 years of age, still an active Al-Anon member of 35 years. The Library was her passion as well; dad could not have had a more supporting, contributing and loving partner than mom.
There were so many other people who helped tape and get the Library off the ground in the early days there isn’t time to list them, but you can be sure they were there, and there contributions were large.
The way it started was Dad was on a committee for a local Roundup in about 1972. They had a company in to do the taping. The price was high so Dad said “we can do it cheaper ourselves”, thus started G.S.T.L. He knew nothing about taping, audio, recorders or duplicators. What alcoholic has ever been impaired by lack of information! So off they went, Dad bought a tape recorder & one high-speed tape duplicator, Mom bought a typewriter and they began. They only taped this one conference, Mom hand typed the labels for weeks in advance, and Dad would be up all night at the conference making tapes one copy at a time! What a grind, what a commitment!
Well good things grow, word got out and dad & mom started getting asked to tape other roundups, workshops and group anniversaries, and things continued to grow. G.S.T.L. has never advertised its services; everything we tape is by invitation only. We incorporated as a non-profit in 1976. To my knowledge we are the only non-profit company taping exclusively for 12 Step Fellowships & their groups. Primarily A.A. and Al-Anon but also Overeaters Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous as well.
By the way, there was not then, nor is there now any charge to have any event taped. All of our income is generated through sales of tapes, cd’s and goodwill DONATIONS. The mission statement remains the same “ to help carry A.A. and Al-Anons message of recovery to the still suffering Alcoholic, Friend or Family member who has been affected.”
Everyone who you see taping at an event is a volunteer, giving up their time, and sometimes that is their personal vacation time, to be at that event to help carry the message. We have at anyone time up to 20 volunteers working in this effort throughout the year. Through the years our Higher Power has continued to supply us with dedicated volunteers who want to help and give back that which they were so freely given. It has been an incredible experience to be a part of all this! Ah but back to the story.
My Dad was retired so he could give all his time to this project, and it just continued to grow. After only a few years Mom & Dad were taping in MN, N.D, S.D, IA, WISC. MB and Ont., Texas, Wyoming, Montana! Doing 10 – 15 conferences a year, plus a lot of local banquets speaker meetings and anniversaries.
I sobered up in 1978 and joined Mom & Dad taping around 8 years sober. There was a time about 15 years ago, the folks were slowing down and I started wondering what was going to happen to the Library after Mom and Dad couldn’t do it any longer. So I asked Dad, his response was “ I guess it will just stop” Then I heard some very strange words coming out of my mouth, I said “ dad, when you are ready I will take it over and keep it going as long as I can” well I was shocked, this wasn’t my life plan, but he accepted and off we went.
I am self-employed, so I am able to work the G.S.T.L. taping around my own work and keep things going. It has been a huge, and incredibly rewarding challenge. Thank you Dad; thank you god.
Well things have just kept growing, the utilities, gas, rent and the amount of work. We now are taping 40 – 60 Roundups a year, plus supply the equipment for several local speaker meetings to tape their own meetings. And we donate hundreds of tapes per year to prisons and institutions all over the United States and Canada. We now archive over 35,000 talks by over 4400 speakers. We carry in excess of 140 premade A.A. ,Al-Anon & O.A. tape set titles. With over 300 CD titles that are also available in mp3 format. A web site, www.gstl.org, where you can shop online. e-mail, fax and a toll free phone number to reach us with your requests and questions. We are also a speaker referral service for people looking for speakers for their roundup or convention. They tell us what they are looking for, we send audition tapes of speakers meeting their criteria, then we connect them with phone numbers and addresses, again this is a FREE service.
Another enormous blessing came to us a while ago, in the year 2000, it was A.A.’s International Convention held in Mpls, we taped it with an all volunteer staff of over 30 people in sales and 90 people out taping meetings and duplicating tapes, we served over 50,000 people that week and we offered the lowest International price for tapes in twenty years! What an adventure!
There is no limit to a good idea, G.S.T.L. started out in 1972 as a thought that said’ “we can do this cheaper, and we can do this better.” One recorder, one duplicator, one typewriter. To our current condition where we can have running at a single event up to 24 cassette duplicators, 30 recorders, and 7 CD Burners ! That typewriter of Mom’s is now 3 computers and if that was not enough, we have the most dedicated volunteers and operations staff an organization could ever wish to have. These are the people that do the work in the office and tape the Roundups, Conventions & Workshops on weekends. These are the people carrying the dream and the message, they are the reason we can do so many conventions and at the same time can keep our prices down and the quality of our products so high.
If you have called the office you’ve already met Ellie and Evan. They handle the phones, orders and any other questions you might have. My wife Andrea and I are also in the office, filling orders, requests, and dealing with the scheduling for production and duplication. In the field, doing the taping we have all of us in the office plus about 8 – 12 other folks who contribute the year round and do a great job. Without the volunteers we couldn’t do what we do.
We ship to people in recovery all over the world. South Africa, Mexico, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, Thailand, Australia, Iceland, South America, Japan, Canada the United States, and of coarse - you.
So I thank you for your continued support, and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you. As well as carry the message of recovery and hope to others who still suffer. You buying our tapes and cd’s helps make it possible for thousands of people just like you and me to stay sober, find a fellowship to grow in, use the steps as a new way of life and ultimately find peace and comfort in a relationship with a Higher Power, a Spirit of the Universe, a God of our own understanding, and live useful and for the most part happy contented lives.
May God continue to bless you and keep you safe for the length of your journey. Again my thanks for your support and the opportunity to serve you and welcome to the family