Approximately one million people in Illinois do not have access to public library services, because they are not taxed for library service by a local governing agency.
These untaxed Illinois residents are referred to as "nonresidents" in the Illinois Library Laws and Rules.
A nonresident FAQ is available from the Illinois State Library. This document answers many questions related to nonresident services.
Access to public libraries is a crucial part of early childhood literacy, lifelong learning and academic success. People in Illinois who do not live within a library service area are at a disadvantage with other states that have universal service when they compete for college admission or jobs throughout their lives.
Expanding Service to Nonresidents
There are two ways for nonresidents to obtain library cards and other services from public libraries:
- Nonresident Cards - Individuals and families may purchase cards from the closest public library where nonresident cards are available. The board of each public library is required by Illinois law to decide annually whether the library will participate in the nonresident fee program, and to inform RAILS within 30 days of board action.
- Intergovernmental Agreements - A municipality, school district, or other local government agency may contract with a public library to provide services to its untaxed residents.
- RAILS Universal Service Committee - A committee of the RAILS Board of Directors, charged to explore solutions
- RAILS Universal Service Plan
- RAILS Survey on the Unserved - Analysis (August 2019)
- RAILS Resource Sharing Map - Unshaded (white) areas within RAILS boundaries are without public library service
- Illinois State Library Library Service Areas Map - Allows you to look up an address to check whether it's served by a public library