RAILS supports over 100 academic libraries in northern and western Illinois. All staff members at each of these libraries has access to RAILS programs and services.  

Explore the information below to find out how RAILS supports academic libraries and how you can make the most of your membership.

Initiate your involvement in RAILS:

New to RAILS or need a refresher? Any level of staff can start here!

Your L2 Account

The Library Directory & Learning Calendar (L2) serves as both the RAILS membership directory and a statewide continuing education/events calendar. RAILS encourages all staff members at all of our academic libraries to sign up for an L2 account.

RAILS Continuing Education

RAILS offers online and in-person continuing education (CE) at no cost to academic library staff. The Library Directory & Learning Calendar (L2) lists upcoming statewide CE events. RAILS also offers recordings of many CE sessions in our CE Archives (login required).

RAILS E-News

The weekly RAILS E-News includes important information about RAILS, member libraries of all types (academic, public, school, and special), upcoming continuing education events, and other important news from the library world. We encourage all staff at your academic library to subscribe.

Email Lists

RAILS offers several email lists for library staff to discuss common issues. Lists of potential interest to academic library staff include:

  • Academic Libraries
  • Circulation
  • Electronic Content
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Makerspaces
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Reference Services
  • Technical Services
  • Technology and Network Management

Networking Groups

RAILS Networking Groups are created and run by staff at our member libraries. To find a group that shares your interests, search our Networking Groups Directory. The directory page also has information about ways RAILS can support you to create a new networking group.

Online Roundtables

RAILS Online Roundtables are hour-long forums on a specific topic that provide a way for library staff at all levels from all types of libraries to share knowledge and best practices. The forums are held via Zoom. Any library worker from any type of library may attend.

Finding Networking Opportunities through L2

L2 (Library Directory & Learning Calendar) includes a directory of Illinois libraries. You can limit your search by library type, county, and more to find colleagues from other academic libraries or from libraries in your geographical area.

Take the next step to engage further with RAILS:

Get more involved with RAILS and other RAILS members.

Participate in Find More Illinois

Find More Illinois connects standalone and shared online catalogs from participating libraries of all types (academic, public, school, and specialized) statewide.

One-time implementation fees vary based on library size and type. Annual membership fees are based on collection expenditures.

RAILS E-Resources Programs

RAILS' eRead Illinois Axis 360 collection includes e-books and e-audiobooks with very reasonable pricing. Around 30 academic libraries currently participate in eRead Illinois. Many academic libraries join eRead Illinois to supplement their library's leisurely reading collection.

Inkie.org supports local authors with online creation and publishing tools and is available to everyone in Illinois at no charge. Students can design and self-publish their own e-books via Pressbooks. Faculty can also use Pressbooks to create classroom materials.

Through RAILS' Explore More Illinois online cultural and recreational pass program, cardholders at participating libraries can take advantage of various discounts at museums, park districts, historical societies, zoos, art centers, and more. There is no charge for community college libraries to participate.

RAILS Can Save Your Library Money

RAILS offers a variety of discounts and group purchases of interest to our academic library members. Visit our Deals & Discounts page for a full list of what we have to offer.

My Library Is...

Need help promoting the value of your library to administrators, faculty, students, and other stakeholders? The My Library Is… Campaign includes:

Post Your Academic Library News to the RAILS Website

All RAILS library staff members are encouraged to share any news about their library, including special events and programs, new/enhanced library services, staff news, or anything else you would like your library colleagues to know. We will include any news items posted to our website in our weekly RAILS E-News. Look for the "Add Library News" link in the News & Announcements from Libraries page.

Share Your News via RAILS' Social Media Channels

RAILS academic libraries can also share their library news and interact with RAILS and other members on our social media pages including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Free/For Sale/Wanted

Looking to add or get rid of equipment, furniture, or supplies? RAILS offers the Free/For Sale/Wanted page as a low-cost/no-cost option. Libraries can list giveaways or for-sale items and post inquiries about wanted items.

All exchanges are the responsibility of the participating libraries. RAILS delivery service is not available to move items. We provide this listing service as a convenience for members and do not endorse any offer.

Post Library Closings

Is your library closing for weather, renovation, or training? Let other libraries know on our Library Closings page to keep everyone up to date. The page also includes information about informing RAILS Delivery.

The Library Pulse: Current Issues

RAILS' Library Pulse pages help members stay up to date on the latest issues affecting all sizes and types of libraries. We explain why it's important for libraries to pay attention to each issue, include links to key resources, describe what RAILS is doing to help, list ways libraries can get involved, and, when available, provide real-world examples of best practices from RAILS members.

Page topics change as new challenges emerge. Current topics include:

We welcome feedback from library staff via the comment section at the bottom of each issue's web page. Please share what has worked for you and your library, as well as any other questions or ideas you have about the issue at hand.

More For You and Your Library

The following RAILS programs are available without charge to RAILS academic libraries.

Delivery

RAILS provides delivery service to members of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). RAILS works with non-CARLI members to find the delivery service that best meets their needs. If your library is not a member of CARLI, contact the RAILS Delivery Help Desk for more information.

Conduct Quick Surveys of Other Academic Libraries

Fast Facts Survey is a way to crowdsource an answer about a specific topic in libraries. To post a brief Fast Facts survey, visit the Fast Facts Surveys page and click on "Add New Survey."

RAILS Continuing Education Event Grant

RAILS periodically offers CE Event Grants to individual libraries (including academic libraries), networking groups, and library consortia to support continuing education opportunities for RAILS library staff. RAILS prioritizes events focused on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility.