Welcome to the LIPSSEE Information Site.
LIPSSEE is a support group solely for Prep School librarians. It was set up in January 2009 to address the particular issues and needs of anyone working in any capacity in an independent primary school library. Somewhere we could seek professional advice and guidance, exchange ideas and information, share expertise and good practice and make social contact. Initially our catchment area was just the south-east of England, but our membership lists now include Prep School librarians from even further afield. New members are always welcome and membership is free. The group is run on a very informal basis, and although not affiliated with CILIP or the SLA, many of our members do hold memberships to these other library organisations as well.
So what’s it really like being a Prep School librarian?
One of our members recently described a typical day – read about it here!
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
- information – this blog is updated regularly and features posts on many important library-related topics
- regular newsletters – these will help keep you up to date and aware of any new developments in the literary/library world
- ‘Guidelines for Prep School Libraries’ (2016) – ratified by IAPS (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. Kent Book Company see ‘Suppliers’ section of this blog for further details
- advocacy – the group has been responsible for the publication of several articles on the importance of school libraries (see ‘Advocacy’ section of this blog for details)
Please note: the LIPSSEE membership list is never sold or shared. Vendors are encouraged to scan the schools we represent on the ‘member schools’ tab.
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 present coordinator:
Denise Reed, Assistant Librarian, Ardingly College, College Lane, Ardingly, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6SQ
Acknowledgements: Dr. Rosemary Hughes (Great Walstead School) for assisting in the initial setting up of the group and for her continuing support
(This website was set up in 2010 by Denise Reed, the founder and coordinator of LIPSSEE and is regularly updated. This page was last updated on 12 February 2017)