The Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) announced Alan N. Davidson had been named President of the Board of Directors of RAILS. Davidson succeeds John Chrastka as president.
The original eighteen Illinois Regional Library Systems were founded under authority of the Illinois Library System Act (1965) to serve academic, public, (primary and secondary) school, and special libraries. Effective Friday, July 1, 2011, the Metropolitan Library System (MLS), DuPage Library System (DLS), North Suburban Library System (NSLS), Alliance Library System (ALS), and Prairie Area Library System (PALS) merged into the super-system RAILS. On that same date, four Illinois Regional Library Systems in Central and Southern Illinois – the Lewis & Clark Library System (LCLS), Lincoln Trail Library System (LTLS), Rolling Prairie Library System (RPLS), and Shawnee Library System (SLS) – merged into the super-system Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS).
Prior to being named Board President, Davidson served as Vice President of the RAILS Board. Last year, he was elected to a two-year-long term on the RAILS Board of Directors that will expire June 30, 2013.
A resident of Princeton, Illinois, Davidson has served on the Princeton Public Library Board for five years and was a PALS board member for more than two years. Davidson played an integral role in the RAILS merger.
In early May of 2011, Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White approved these two system mergers. Each of the regional library systems that merged into RAILS and IHLS supported a computerized card catalog consortium called a “Local Library System Automation Project” (LLSAP), an electronic union card catalog. RAILS directly operates four LLSAPs: SWAN, MAGIC, RSA, and PrairieCat.
It has three core services: van delivery to facilitate interlibrary loans (ILL), LLSAPs, and Talking Book Services. It operates two of the four Talking Book Centers in Illinois, the Voices of Vision Talking Book Center in Geneva and the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center in East Peoria.
RAILS provides support services to over 1,500 public, academic, school, and special member libraries at more than 3,700 library locations in a 27,000 square mile area. It covers non-public libraries in Chicago and libraries of all types in the rest of Northern Illinois and part of Central Illinois.
The Illinois General Assembly funds the Illinois Regional Library Systems through the ISL. Illinois Regional Library Systems are bodies politic and corporate established under authority of state law like city governments.
The RAILS headquarters is at 125 Tower Drive in Burr Ridge. This was one of two facilities formerly operated by MLS.
RAILS relocated its service center in Rockford in far Northern Illinois (near the border with Wisconsin) to 4607 Colt Road. This is a smaller, 3,500-square-foot facility four blocks from the old facility.
The phone and fax numbers have not changed. In September, RAILS announced the new facility was operational.
In early November, RAILS announced it received $1,112,177.90 as its first FY2013 (July, 2012 – June, 2013) payment. This was made from federal LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) FY2011 funds.
Last month, the ISL announced a new process would take effect January 2, 2013, under which all Illinois Regional Library System member libraries will complete a mandatory annual online library certification. In mid-December, RAILS named Deirdre (Dee) Brennan the first permanent executive director, effective on January 2, 2013. She has served as Executive Director of the Oak Park Public Library for six years.
Ms. Brennan held two high-level positions in Boston for about six years. She served as Director of the Boston Regional Library System for three years. The Boston Regional Library System was similar to RAILS.
Previously, Ms. Brennan was Deputy Director of the Boston Public Library for three years. She’s from Boston. Before she accepted the position of Executive Director of the Oak Park Public Library, she had commuted between Boston and Chicago areas for a few years to be with her partner, Keith Michael Fiels, the Executive Director of the American Library Association () since 2002.
The IHLS managed four automation systems with a total inventory of over 9,600,000 items. Last year 11,000,000 items were circulated.
If libraries had to purchase each of these resources (average cost $18 per item), it would cost $198,000,000. In early 2013 will be migrating to one integrated library software platform to become the largest library consortium in the U.S. Provides support to 296 member libraries, representing 437 service centers.
Last year, the IHLS delivered 6,500,000 items to Illinois libraries at no charge. To deliver the materials using the United States Postal Service it would cost, on average, $2.10 per item. The total cost would be $7,568,085.
The average cost to deliver an item is 39¢, less than the cost of a postage stamp. In FY2012 IHLS courier drivers drove 736,425 miles.
The Cataloging Maintenance Center (CMC) provides statewide cataloging support in the following areas: database cleanup, original and copy cataloging, training, and assistance with general cataloging questions, including RDA. FY2012 provided over 8,500 catalog records for IHLS libraries and database cleanup of approximately 200,000 records.
Talking Books (Illinois Machine Sublending Agency-IMSA) lends free audio and braille library service for the blind or seeing-impaired reader. There are 13,000 active registered Talking Book users in Illinois.