Quad Cities Libraries Join PrairieCat - Frequently Asked Questions

On May 17, 2016, eight Illinois libraries in the Quad Cities area, former members of the RiverShare Libraries consortium, joined PrairieCat. PrairieCat is a shared online catalog supported by the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS).

The following are questions RAILS has received regarding this change.

What eight Illinois libraries are involved?

  • East Moline Public Library
  • Henry C. Adams Memorial Library (Prophetstown)
  • Moline Public Library
  • River Valley District Library (Port Byron)
  • Robert R. Jones Public Library (Coal Valley)
  • Rock Island Public Library (main library and two branches)
  • Sherrard Public Library District
  • Silvis Public Library

Why did these libraries decide to join PrairieCat?

There are several reasons:

The patrons of these libraries now have access to millions more library items all in one place. With the addition of the eight libraries, PrairieCat now includes the holdings of 132 libraries in Illinois – about 5 million items. (RiverShare formerly included the holdings of 18 libraries in Illinois and Iowa – about 1.2 million items.)

Once library users locate the materials they need, they may receive them faster through the RAILS delivery system. Previously, patrons from the eight libraries may have waited a week or more to receive materials from other Iowa RiverShare libraries. Now, materials should be received from other PrairieCat libraries within two to three days on average.

In addition, delivery service is provided free of charge and the eight libraries no longer have to pay for an independent delivery service as they did with RiverShare.

The change saves a great deal of staff time for all eight libraries. Library staff no longer has to deal with the myriad of technical issues involved in maintaining an automated catalog. PrairieCat has trained technology staff to deal with these issues and library staff can now focus their efforts on directly serving library users.

RAILS also provided grants to all eight libraries to help them pay the start-up costs associated with joining PrairieCat.

What are the benefits of the change for current PrairieCat member libraries?

PrairieCat member libraries have long desired to bring in as many new members as possible to increase the resource sharing benefits of participating in a shared online catalog. Approximately 700,000 items have been added to PrairieCat with the addition of the eight Quad City libraries, which give all PrairieCat users access to a wider selection of materials.

There are also eight additional libraries to help share the costs involved for libraries participating in PrairieCat.

Can the Iowa libraries in RiverShare join PrairieCat?

The Iowa libraries are welcome to join PrairieCat. The pricing scale would be different for these libraries because they are funded through the state of Iowa and the Illinois libraries in RiverShare are funded through the state of Illinois. The Iowa libraries would also have to pay for delivery (see next question) and would not be eligible for RAILS grants to help cover startup costs. The Iowa libraries have decided that it is in their best interest to remain a part of RiverShare rather than to join PrairieCat.

Why can't RiverShare libraries receive delivery through RAILS?

RAILS is funded by an annual grant from the Illinois Secretary of State's Office, through the Illinois State Library. RAILS is legally restricted from using state funding to provide free services to Iowa libraries. In April 2014, RAILS provided RiverShare with a proposal to provide delivery services to the Iowa libraries on a cost-recovery basis. RiverShare decided to pursue other delivery options.

What will happen to the remaining RiverShare libraries?

The 10 remaining libraries will continue the RiverShare Libraries consortium.

Are there other ways that patrons from the eight libraries can acquire items from Iowa libraries after they join PrairieCat?

If patrons from the eight libraries are unable to find the items they need from the 132 PrairieCat libraries (including the Quad City libraries), they have access to materials held by other Illinois libraries and libraries through the country through interlibrary loan.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

Contact Carolyn Coulter, PrairieCat Services Manager, at carolyn.coulter@railslibraries.info or 309.623.4176