Become a Member


Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) serves nearly 1,300 libraries in northern and west-central Illinois. Academic, public, school, and special libraries can take advantage of services such as:

  • continuing education and consulting resources to library employees and trustees
  • interlibrary loan delivery
  • 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

There is no membership fee. Funding for RAILS is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State, with funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly.


Any academic, public, school, or special library within the geographic boundaries of RAILS is eligible to apply for membership. For geographic boundaries, please see the Illinois library system map.

All member libraries must comply with requirements as defined by Administrative Code Rules, Illinois Library System Act (23 III.Admin. Code 3030.200). 

For more information, please see Table of Membership Requirements by Library Type

Application Process

Libraries can apply for membership at any time. Before applying, please check that your library meets all of the requirements. Please note that the application can take up to two months (depending on the date of the next RAILS Board of Directors meeting). 

Below are the full steps for membership approval:

  1. Fill out the RAILS membership application.
  2. A RAILS representative will conduct a site visit. 
  3. A RAILS representative will submit a recommendation to the RAILS Board of Directors.
  4. RAILS Board of Directors votes to approve the recommendation.
  5. The recommendation is officially recognized by the Illinois State Library. 


For questions on applying, please contact Dan Bostrom, RAILS Member Engagement Manager, 630.734.5152. 

Download a PDF version of the membership application.