RAILS supports over 551 school 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 school 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 school libraries to create an L2 account.

For more information, view this L2 presentation recorded by Brian Smith, RAILS Applications & Web Developer, for the 2022 RAILS Back to School Fest on August 17, 2022.

RAILS Continuing Education

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

RAILS also partners with the Illinois State Library and the Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE) to provide Professional Development Hours (PDHs). The L2 Calendar indicates when PDH credits are available.

For more information, view the Continuing Education presentation recorded by Joe Filapek, RAILS Director of Consulting & Continuing Education, for the 2022 RAILS Back to School Fest on August 17, 2022.


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 school library to subscribe.

Email Lists

In addition to hosting the Association of School Library Educators (AISLE) mailing list, RAILS offers several email lists for library staff to discuss common issues. Lists of potential interest to school library staff include:

  • School Libraries
  • Audiovisual Information and Discussion (AVID)
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Makerspaces
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Programming
  • Technical Services
  • Technology and Network Management
  • Young Adult Services
  • Youth Services

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 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 school libraries or from libraries in your geographical area.

For more information, view the Networking and Email Lists presentation recorded by Dan Bostrom, RAILS Member Engagement Manager, for the 2022 RAILS Back to School Fest on August 17, 2022.

Take the next step to engage further with RAILS:

Get more involved with RAILS and other RAILS members.

School Library Advocacy Through Education (SLATE)

RAILS' School Library Advocacy Through Education (SLATE) project is a statewide effort to gather and analyze data to get a better picture of school library needs in Illinois.

Additional Information

Sparks Podcast Episode 41: Support for School Libraries - RAILS Executive Director Monica Harris talks with AISLE Executive Secretary Carolyn Kinsella and RAILS Data Research Specialist Janette Derucki about efforts to support school libraries in Illinois, including a statewide partnership and RAILS’ School Library Data Project.

School Library Data Project Presentation - Recorded by Janette Derucki, RAILS Data Research Specialist, for the 2022 RAILS Back to School Fest on August 17, 2022.

RAILS My Library Is ... Grants for School Libraries

Once a year, RAILS offers grants to help school libraries show their value to stakeholders.

These grants help recipients plan projects that tell the library story and increase visibility and support for school libraries.

RAILS Continuing Education Event Grants

RAILS periodically offers CE Event grants to individual libraries (including school 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.

Additional Information

Grants for School Libraries Presentation - Recorded by Dan Bostrom, RAILS Member Engagement Manager, for the 2022 RAILS Back to School Fest on August 17, 2022.

RAILS E-Resources Programs

eRead Illinois Boundless provides affordable access to over 65,000 e-books and e-audiobooks. Approximately 34% of the collection is aimed at K-12 students. A scoping feature lets schools restrict students' access to mature adult content.

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. Teachers can also use Pressbooks to create classroom materials. 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.

Additional Information

eRead Illinois and Inkie.org Presentation - Recorded by Anna Behm, RAILS E-Content Specialist, for the 2022 RAILS Back to School Fest on August 17, 2022.

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 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 students access to a wider variety materials.

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

RAILS Can Save Your Library Money

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

For more information, view the Deals & Discounts for K-12 Libraries presentation recorded by Leila Heath, RAILS Director of Library Resources and Programs, for the 2022 RAILS Back to School Fest on August 17, 2022.

My Library Is...

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

Post Your School Library News to the RAILS Website

All RAILS school 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.

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

RAILS school 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.

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 school libraries.

Get Support for Cataloging World Language Materials

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. The program is made possible by an Illinois State Library grant and there is no cost to your library.

Conduct a Quick Survey of School Library Colleagues

Have you ever wondered what service providers other school libraries use, or who has purchased a product you’re considering for your library? Want to know more about other school library policies or procedures in specific areas? With Fast Facts Surveys, you can quickly poll your library colleagues on a variety of topics and all responses are compiled in one place.

Interlibrary Delivery Services

Delivery for interlibrary loans 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.

Additional Information

How RAILS Can Help Your School Library Thrive - Recorded on June 3, 2022 for the Lake County Regional Office of Education Summer Professional Development event.