RAILS supports over 400 public 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 public libraries and how you can make the most of your membership.
Special resources for public library directors & trustees
Have a question about the Illinois Freedom of Information Act or Open Meetings Act? Illinois public library directors and Freedom of Information Act/Open Meetings Act officers can use our FOIA/OMA Hotline to receive free help from an Ancel Glink attorney.
Any trustee can create an L2 account which can be used to access the RAILS Trustee Training page. Public library trustees have access to more than 20 archived webinars that are specifically designed for boards. These webinars include topics like FOIA/OMA, budgeting, intellectual freedom, and more.
Directors Only Email List
Anyone identified as a library director in L2 can subscribe to the Directors Only Email List. You can ask for advice from other library directors through this forum and share best practices and other information unique to your position.
If you're a new director at a public library, RAILS provides a checklist to ensure that you are taking advantage of the many member benefits that RAILS has to offer.
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 and board members at all of our public libraries to create an L2 account.
RAILS Continuing Education
RAILS offers online and in-person continuing education (CE) at no cost to public 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).
The weekly RAILS E-News includes important information about RAILS, member libraries of all types (academic, public, school, and special), upcoming continuing education events, grant opportunities from the Illinois State Library, and other important news from the library world. We encourage all staff at your library to subscribe.
RAILS offers several email lists for library staff to discuss common issues. Lists of potential interest to public library staff include:
- Audiovisual Information and Discussion (AVID)
- Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Marketing and Public Relations
- Technical Services
- Technology and Network Management
- Young Adult Services
- Youth Services
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.
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 staff from any member library is invited to 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 public 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.
Delivery is provided as a member benefit to all of our libraries. Your library receives delivery service through one of these methods:
- RAILS delivery vehicles or contracted delivery
- Community delivery partnerships
- Illinois Library Delivery Service (ILDS)
- On-demand delivery service
- U.S. Postal Service
You can find more information on the RAILS Delivery page, including training videos, how to print labels, delivery partnerships, and more.
RAILS Continuing Education Grant
RAILS periodically offers CE Event Grants to individual libraries (including public 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.
RAILS E-Resources Programs
eRead Illinois Axis 360 provides affordable access to over 65,000 e-books and e-audiobooks. This shared collection may be a library’s primary e-book collection, or may augment the e-books that a library already offers to its cardholders.
Inkie.org supports local authors with online creation and publishing tools and is available to everyone in Illinois at no charge. Users can design and self-publish their own e-books via Pressbooks. The Inkie.org library includes the Indie Illinois collection of self-published e-books by Illinois authors and RAILS Community Collections, featuring content added by local libraries.
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 public libraries to participate.
Proposal for Online Resources Suite
RAILS developed a proposal for a suite of online resources that would be available without charge to all Illinois libraries and their patrons, as well as the over one million residents who currently do not receive public library service. For the latest updates on this proposal, please make sure you are subscribed to the RAILS E-News.
Find More Illinois
Find More Illinois connects standalone and shared online catalogs from participating libraries of all types (academic, public, school, and specialized) statewide. Since all types of libraries participate, you can offer patrons access to a wider variety of materials.
One-time implementation fees vary based on library size and type. Annual membership fees are based on collection expenditures.
RAILS World Languages Cataloging Service
The World Language Cataloging Services Program provides original and copy cataloging for books, audiobooks, magazines, sound recordings, and more in a wide variety of world languages. You can submit physical items, photocopies, or PDF files of items to be cataloged. This program is made possible by an Illinois State Library grant, and there is no cost to your library.
RAIL Can Save Your Library Money
RAILS offers a variety of discounts and group purchases of interest to our public 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 your board, elected officials, community, and other stakeholders? The My Library Is… Campaign includes:
Post Your Public Library News to the RAILS Website
All RAILS library staff members are encouraged to share any news about theirlibrary, 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.
Free/For Sale/Wanted listings
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.
Share Your News via RAILS' Social Media Channels
Fast Facts Surveys
Have you ever wondered what service providers other public libraries use, or who has purchased a product you’re considering for your library? Want to know more about other public library policies or procedures in specific areas? With Fast Facts Surveys, you can quickly poll your public library colleagues on a variety of topics and all responses are compiled in one place.
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.