RAILS Member Center: Specialized Libraries

RAILS supports over 100 specialized 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 special 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 specialized libraries to sign up for an L2 account.

RAILS Continuing Education

RAILS offers online and in-person continuing education (CE) at no cost to specialized 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 library to subscribe.

Email Lists

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

  • Special Libraries
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • 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 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 specilized 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.

RAILS Can Save Your Library Money

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

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 patrons.

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.

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.

My Library Is...

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

Post Your Specialized Library News to the RAILS Website

All RAILS specialized library staff are encouraged to share any news about their library, including special events and programs, new/enhanced library services, staff news, and 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 specialized 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 current 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 specialized libraries.

Get Help Cataloging World Language Materials

The World Language Cataloging Services Program provides original and copy cataloging for books, audiobooks, magazines, sound recordings, and much 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 Specialized Library Colleagues

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

RAILS Continuing Education Event Grants

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

Interlibrary Delivery

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.