Membership Requirements

Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) Membership Requirements as of April 2015

I. Eligibility for Membership - General Provisions

A. Any academic, public, school, or special library within the geographic boundaries of RAILS that meets the appropriate provisions and requirements of the System and the statutes and administrative rules of the State of Illinois is eligible to apply for membership.

B. A library applying for membership in RAILS shall be a library of one of the types of libraries defined in the Administrative Code Rules, Illinois Library System Act (23 Ill. Admin. Code 3030.110):

Academic Library: The library or libraries of an institution of education beyond the secondary level that is recognized by the Illinois Board of Higher Education as either an Illinois academic institution or an out-of-state academic institution with a physical presence in Illinois.

Public Library: A tax-supported public library established by or as a governmental unit that either is authorized to levy a tax for library purposes or supports the library at least in part from local tax revenues other than federal revenue sharing.

School Library: The library or libraries of an elementary and/or secondary school district, or private elementary and/or secondary schools under a single governing authority.

Special Library: A library with a unique collection or specialized services recognized by the Illinois state Library that does not meet the definition of academic, public or school library.

II. Membership Application

A. A library that wishes to apply for RAILS membership will need to complete an application form.

B. Acceptance is subject to the approval of the RAILS Board of Directors and the State Librarian, and implies agreement by the applying library to applicable State statutes and rules and to the RAILS Bylaws, policies, and Plan of Service. Members agree to comply with policies, rules, and regulations required for maintaining membership.

III. Membership in a Multitype Library System

A. Libraries may apply for full membership in a library system at any time. The library system may not charge an application fee to the applying library or an annual membership fee. As part of the application process, a site visit by a system staff member to the applicant library is required. Membership criteria specified in this Section must be met by applicants.

1. Upon recommendation of the library system board of directors, the State Librarian shall review the recommendation of the library system board in approving an application of a library for full membership in a library system when the library is located within the geographic boundaries of the library system and meets the following criteria for membership:

a. A library applying for membership in a library system shall be an entity that meets the definition of "library" in Section 3030.110 and the definition of academic, public, school or special library.

b. A public library that is applying for membership in any library system shall meet the definition of public "library" in Section 3030.110 and shall meet the financial requirements for State per capita grants to public libraries as stated in Section 8.1 of the Act.

c. A public school district that is applying for membership in any library system shall meet the requirements for school library grants specified in Section 8.4 of the Act. The governing authority of an elementary/secondary or consolidated school district or the governing authority of private elementary and/or secondary schools shall authorize the application for system membership.

d. The governing authority of an academic institution recognized by the Illinois Board of Higher Education shall authorize an application for its academic library.

e. The governing authority of a special library shall authorize the application for library system membership. The applicant library shall agree to participate in interlibrary loan.

f. In special circumstances, the library system board may, with concurrence from the State Librarian, accept libraries as full members with special noncirculating research collections.

2. Once membership status is approved, the following requirements apply to all full members except when otherwise specific in this subsection A:

a. The library is entitled to the library system services for which it meets system requirements.

b. The library shall meet the primary information needs of the library's primary clientele. The library shall build and maintain collections of books, serials, media and electronic resources sufficient to meet the needs of its primary clientele.

c. The library must comply with the ILLINET Interlibrary Loan Code, making its collection available via interlibrary loan. The library shall share its collection with the patrons of other full member libraries as freely and easily as permitted by law, this Part and the system resource sharing plan, treating patrons of all other libraries the same. To facilitate resource sharing, the library shall publish its lending and borrowing policies in all appropriate directories. The library shall provide sufficient staff to fulfill interlibrary loan requests and prepare materials in compliance with system delivery policies and practices. An exception to compliance with the code may be granted by the State Librarian and library system to special research libraries with noncirculating collections.

d. The library shall participate in appropriate resource sharing training provided or facilitated by the library system staff or the Illinois State Library.

e. The library shall provide reciprocal access to its library resources, according to the library system's resource sharing plan.

f. A public library member shall provide reciprocal borrowing to registered patrons of other public libraries who are full members of the same Illinois library system. Public libraries shall circulate various materials to eligible reciprocal borrowers under the same conditions that they circulate those materials to their own patrons. Limitations in reciprocal borrowing, if any, must not exceed limitations approved in the system's resource sharing plan and must be imposed equally among all reciprocal borrowing patrons.  If the library participates in the nonresident program, the library shall honor library cards issued to nonresidents by participating public libraries within the same system.

g. The library is eligible to vote for representatives on the library system Board of Directors, and a representative of the library may serve on the library system Board of Directors.

h. The library shall participate in the system decision making process through involvement in meetings, responding to surveys, board membership and serving on committees.

i. The library shall complete, on an annual basis, the certification process required for library system membership.

j. A public library shall complete the public library annual report required in Section 7 of the State Library Act.

k. A public library member shall regularly assess possibilities for library service to adjacent unserved areas, if any.

l. The library shall evaluate its need for upgrades to automated discovery tools.

m. The library shall consider participation in a Local Library System Automation Program in order to readily expand access to resources for the library's patrons.  A library participating in a shared integrated library system shall be responsible for all policy and assessed financial requirements associated with participation in the program.

n. The library shall, within seven years from the effective date of this Part, evaluate and report to the library system regarding the library's plans to provide and maintain access to its new acquisitions via a Local Library System Automation Program or a shared bibliographic database, if such access is not already available via a shared database.

o. The library shall complete the Illinois State Library's annual survey of interlibrary loan traffic by the specified deadline.

p. The library shall abide by established system policies for the resolution of problems and conflicts associated with resource sharing.

q. The library shall comply with all applicable State statutes and administrative rules, and with the system's bylaws, policies and plan of service.

r. Violations of any of the requirements of subsection (A)(2) may be grounds for suspension of system membership.

B. Phasing Out of Developmental Library Membership Status

1. No applications for new developmental libraries shall be approved, as of the effective date of this Part.

2. Existing developmental libraries, as of the effective date of this Part, will have a maximum of five years to meet the full membership criteria.

3. All developmental libraries shall complete, on an annual basis, the certification process required by the State Librarian. Each year, as part of the annual certification, the library shall submit a developmental progress plan, for review by the library system and State Librarian, that sets forth the library's annual goals and explains how the library will meet the criteria for membership in the library system. The library system board and the State Librarian will review the progress plan and make a joint determination about whether progress has been made and if membership criteria specified for full member libraries has been reached.

4. Failure to make annual progress or failure to address full membership criteria by the end of the five consecutive years will be grounds for suspension of system membership as specified in Section 3030.205.

5. A developmental member library is eligible for library system communications and assistance from library system staff in addressing full membership criteria.

6. A developmental library is entitled to apply for specified grants (see 23 Ill. Adm. Code 3035).

7. Representatives from developmental libraries are not eligible for system board seats.

C. No other category of system membership is recognized.