Vision Statement

Thriving libraries are essential to all who learn, live, or work in Illinois.

Mission Statement

We Connect Libraries

Map of the RAILS service area, which covers northern and west-central Illinois. Dots indicate the locations of our offices.

Who We Are

RAILS is a regional library system, a government agency that provides services to libraries in the northern and west-central areas of the state of Illinois.

We serve approximately 1250 private, public, school, and university library members, which have a total of more than 4000 library facilities in a 27,000 square mile area.

Although the city of Chicago is within our boundaries, and a number of our member libraries are located in Chicago, the Chicago Public Library constitutes a separate library system. Members have several opportunities to network with each other through email lists, networking groups, member updates, and at networking events.

We are governed by a Board of Directors, elected by member libraries.

Library systems are established by state law (75 ILCS 10/, the Illinois Library System Act). Funding for Illinois Library Systems is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State, with funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly.

RAILS was formed in 2011, from a merger of the Alliance, DuPage, Metropolitan, North Suburban, and Prairie Area library systems.

What We Do

Our services to libraries include:

RAILS offers a number of services to our member libraries. While some services require a fee from participating libraries, many do not.

  • interlibrary delivery
  • continuing education and consulting resources to library employees and trustees
  • shared catalog and cataloging support
  • e-content services
  • museum and attractions pass program
  • group purchases and vendor discounts
  • networking opportunities for library employees
  • targeted grant funding to member libraries
  • ... and more

For detailed information, see the Services tab of this site's main menu, or get an overview of RAILS programs and services for your library type.