Article courtesy of DLS Here and Now
The boards of five northern and central Illinois library systems voted in January to merge into a single library system effective July 1, 2011. The agreement was approved by the boards of the Alliance Library System, DuPage Library System, Metropolitan Library System, North Suburban Library System, and the Prairie Area Library System. The proposed new system will provide services to more than 1,500 public, private, university, and school library members.
Due to the State of Illinois’ unprecedented fiscal crisis, library system management and boards, together with the Illinois State Library, are seeking ways of creating a more sustainable model for system services. This consolidation of five systems will reduce administrative costs, streamline operations, and improve the coordination of resource sharing services.
“Illinois library systems have been a leader in providing library services across the state for many years,” said Su Erickson, Chair of the Merger Design Team. “The merged system, through cooperation and collaborative efforts, will continue to provide these critical services to libraries and their users in the future.”
The financial condition of library systems continues to improve due to the receipt of recent payments from the State of Illinois. In November 2010, library systems received the full balance of FY2010 payments. In January 2011, systems received the first payment from the state for FY2011 (July 2010 – June 2011), amounting to approximately 35% of the total appropriations for the fiscal year.
“As members of the Illinois library community, we must seek to ensure the strength and duration of our foundation of interlibrary cooperation,” stated Anne Craig, Director of the Illinois State Library. “Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White supports library services in the strongest manner possible. He continues to champion library grant programs at a time when competition for each dollar is intense.”
In 2010, a Merger Design Team was formed and is currently developing a FY2012 operational plan and a long range plan for delivering library services through FY2015. The Team is working closely with the Illinois State Library to complete the merger process, which requires the approval of Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White.
Library systems are critical to the state’s library services. Each year, systems deliver more than 30 million books and other materials that are loaned to library users statewide. The online catalogs for more than 800 Illinois libraries are operated by library systems and are used to circulate more than 45 million library resources throughout the state. Library systems also serve all 102 Illinois counties with Talking Book Program services for Illinois residents unable to read conventional print material due to a visual or physical disability.