The Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) is one of two multitype regional library systems in the state. The membership of RAILS includes academic, public, school, and special libraries.
RAILS provides delivery service to support Illinois’ vast interlibrary loan program, technology support for more than 600 libraries’ shared online catalogs, and Talking Book Services that serve persons with visual or physical disabilities who cannot read conventional print material.
The RAILS service area covers northern and western Illinois. The system serves more than 1500 private, public, school, and university library members, representing more than 3700 library facilities in a 27,000 square mile area. Although the city of Chicago is within RAILS' boundaries, and a number of RAILS member libraries are located in Chicago, the Chicago Public Library constitutes a separate library system.
Library systems are established by state law (75 ILCS 10/, the Illinois Library System Act). Funding for Illinois Library Systems is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State, with funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly. RAILS was formed in 2011, through the merger of the Alliance, DuPage, Metropolitan, North Suburban, and Prairie Area library systems.
RAILS Vision, Mission, and Values
We believe that a vibrant, connected, accessible network of libraries will lead to improved public education and quality of life for our citizens. Therefore, The System will:
encourage and support cooperation among all types of libraries, facilitating and promoting the sharing of library resources to create wider access to information, including access for persons with disabilities;
improve the cost effectiveness and substantively increase the impact of libraries and their services as vital agencies in creating an informed citizenry by wise use of taxpayer resources;
advocate to policy makers and stakeholders the value of academic, public, special and school libraries in the information age by working with our partners;
lead innovation in library services, providing timely information on emerging trends and important research in the field of library science;
enable libraries to ensure that every resident within the service area has equitable access to the information needed for lifelong learning that supports work, school, or personal growth and development, through technology supports, professional development, consulting, and group purchasing.
The System promotes excellence in library operations by providing critical and cost effective supportive services.
We value the right of Illinois library users to have access to information.
We believe in the important role that interlibrary cooperation and resource sharing among our members plays in providing that access.
We value our members and our staff.
We recognize the importance of our members and staff and the contributions they make to our ability to fulfill our mission.
We value our partnerships.
We have a unique integrating role in the public interest that links our key stakeholders: member libraries, our technology partners, and state government.
We value and encourage open dialogue.
We will actively engage stakeholders in shaping the services we provide.
We value innovation and creativity.
We recognize that a balance of appropriate caution and strategic risk are both necessary for creativity and innovation.
We value responsible stewardship of our resources and operate with integrity.
We understand our responsibility to seek out and adopt both ethical principles and practice standards to guide the provision of services.
Funding for all Illinois Library Systems is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State from revenue appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly or granted under the federal Library Services and Technology Act.