Welcome to LIPSSEE
Launched in January 2009, LIPSSEE is a support group specifically for anyone working in any capacity in an independent primary school library. The group, however, does not exist in isolation but actively supports the major national school library organisations such as CILIP(SLG), SLA and the SLS. Initially our catchment area was London and the south-east but we are now welcoming members from even further afield. The group is run on a very informal basis and offers a network of friendly, supportive colleagues ready and willing to share library experiences, help with problems, exchange information and explore new possibilities. New members are always welcome and membership is completely free!
So what’s it really like being a Prep School librarian?
There are many different types of Prep Schools, including single sex and co-educational, day and boarding, stand-alone and all-through, but as librarians, despite our different backgrounds and settings, we still face a number of common problems:
- professional isolation: we usually work alone.
- undervalued: although we are encouraged to be part of the wider school community, a lot of our work is very specific to our profession and so often we are the only ones who really understand what it entails.
- insufficient working hours: very few of us are employed full-time so there are never enough hours in the day to communicate with our academic colleagues, attend meetings etc.
- ambiguous status: officially we are considered support staff, together with the administration, kitchen, maintenance and technical teams. But as librarians we are expected to promote literacy and reading for pleasure, develop information literacy, engage with e-learning and collaborate with teaching staff.
- poorly managed: as school librarians we are in the unique position of being able to work with teachers across all subjects and with students of all ages so having to report, as we often do, to a senior member of the support staff (e.g. Bursar) or teaching staff (e.g. Head of English) only limits our scope.
- lack of performance standards: due to various factors such as the age range of our pupils (typically from 7-13 years) and the autonomous nature of our individual schools we find it very difficult to evaluate what we do
These are just some of the reasons we set up LIPSSEE!
- support -access to an online network of friendly, supportive colleagues 24/7
- information – this blog is updated regularly and features posts on many current library-related topics
- regular newsletters – these will help keep you up to date and aware of any developments in the literary/library world
- ‘Guidelines for Prep School Libraries’ (2016) – compiled by the group for IAPS (The Independent Association of Prep Schools) this document offers a recommended standard of provision for all Prep School libraries
- networking opportunities – share ideas and good practice, develop your knowledge and expertise through regular contact with colleagues at our meetings throughout the year
- mentoring -an informal mentoring scheme is available upon request for anyone new in post
- special discounts – e.g. Newt Books, Box Clever Education. For further details please contact the LIPSSEE co-ordinator
- advocacy – the group has been responsible, not only for compiling the Guidelines as mentioned above, but also for the publication of several articles on the importance of school libraries (see ‘Advocacy‘ section of this blog for details)
- a group Facebook page – (Librarians in Prep Schools in the South East ) but this is at the moment very much in its infancy!
If you would like to join LIPSSEE or have any queries or comments, ideas for future events or information for the website please contact the group’s founder and coordinator: Denise Reed
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postal address: Mrs. D. Reed, Assistant Librarian, Ardingly College, College Lane, Ardingly, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6SQ
Denise has worked with young people in schools for over thirty years, not only as a librarian but also as a nursery nurse, a teaching assistant and even a swimming instructor! In 2010 she was included on the SLA School Librarian of the Year Honour List; and for two years served as a co-opted member on the national committee of CILIP’s School Library’s Group. In 2017 she was invited by the National Literacy Trust to join the steering group on their Foyle Primary School Library project.
Acknowledgements: Dr. Rosemary Hughes (Great Walstead School) for assisting in the initial setting up of the group and for her continuing support