What is RAILS?


Administrative Office:
125 Tower Drive • Burr Ridge, IL 60527
Fax: 630.734.5050

All RAILS Service Centers:
Phone: 630.734.5000 • Toll-Free: 866.940.4081

Interim Executive Director: Monica Harris

What We Do

RAILS provides delivery service to support Illinois' vast interlibrary loan program and technology support for more than 600 libraries' shared online catalogs. Our other services include:

  • continuing education and consulting resources to library employees and trustees
  • shared catalog support
  • e-book services
  • museum pass program
  • group purchases and vendor discounts
  • networking opportunities for library employees
  • targeted grant funding to member libraries

If you'd like a list of services RAILS offers to staff in various departments and in all library types, check out this PDF of the RAILS Services Brochure. If you'd like hard copies for your staff or board members please contact Nicole Zimmermann.

Who we are

RAILS is a regional library system, a government agency that provides services to libraries in the northern and west-central areas of the state of Illinois. We serve approximately 1300 private, public, school, and university library members, which have a total of more than 4200 library facilities in a 27,000 square mile area. Although the city of Chicago is within our boundaries, and a number of our member libraries are located in Chicago, the Chicago Public Library constitutes a separate library system. Members have several opportunities to network with each other through email lists, networking groups, member updates, and at networking events.

We are governed by a Board of Directors, elected by member libraries.

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, from a merger of the Alliance, DuPage, Metropolitan, North Suburban, and Prairie Area library systems.

RAILS members include:

  • 117 Academic libraries (9%)
  • 412 Public libraries (33%)
  • 558 School libraries (44%)
  • 177 Special libraries (14%)

May not add to 100% due to rounding