Grim outlook for Illinois library systems

Dear Readers,

It has been a while since I have posted.  I, like many librarians, have been shocked by the virtual closing of the North Suburban Library System. It seems that almost all Illinois Library Systems will be out of money by October.  This is just horrible and depressing news for many libraries, like mine, who depend on the library system for our LLSAP (online catalog) and delivery service, not to mention the professional development, consulting and networking these systems provide.

The news has hit the Daily Herald and local news shows, but it doesn’t seem like there is enough time to do anything.

I want to take a moment to thank each and every individual who does or has worked for one of the library systems in this great state.  I also want to apologize that we, the librarians, just idly sat by and did nothing.  Your work has helped the millions of library patrons in this state.

A recent email from the Illinois Library Association had this to say

As you may know, there have been recent announcements of major reorganization of several of the regional systems based on on-going uncertainty of state funding.  The Illinois Library Systems Directors Organization (ILSDO) met with representatives of the state library on May 13, 2010, and determined that there was no clear sense of when or if funding would be received.

We know these changes are dramatic and the source of much concern within the library community.  The membership and leadership of ILA are committed to providing as much information as possible to our members and to continuing to work toward adaptive and responsive plans to reconfigure essential structures and funding for cooperative services.  The system boards are expected to submit requests for fully funded FY2011 area and per capita grants, but anticipated continued delays in funding have led some systems to make major adjustments in hopes of continuing core services, such as delivery and shared catalogs.  These have been identified through ILA statewide planning as those most valued by libraries and patrons, and are also those most likely to attract support.

As of this writing, here’s a brief overview of current system service changes and effective dates:

Effective May 31, 2010, Alliance Library System (ALS) will continue delivery services and support TSA and resource sharing.  The following services will be suspended until further notice: continuing education and consulting services; marketing, advocacy, or library promotional services; innovation and grant development services; web services.  Twenty-two staff staff members are being laid off as of May 28.  For additional information, visit

Effective June 30, 2010, Lewis & Clark Library System (LCLS) will continue delivery, LLSAP support and technology services.  As of that date, LCLS will no longer provide consulting, general continuing education (however, the already Summer School for School Librarians will still occur), marketing, advocacy, grant development, or human resources support. One full-time position has already been eliminated, and five additional staff members will be laid off. An acting director will be appointed to replace Tina Hubert, who recently announced her resignation. For additional information, visit

Effective May 31, 2010, North Suburban Library System (NSLS) will discontinue most services, though some will be maintained through June as a transition period. Van delivery remains the number one priority and will continue until further notice. Two part-time staff members will be available through June. For additional information, visit.

The Prairie Area Library System (PALS) reports, “In light of our fiscal reality, systems have agreed to focus on three priorities (a) delivery, (b) PrairieCat, and (c) restructuring.  Other services will be suspended until our state revenue stream is restored.”

Effective July 1, 2010, the Rolling Prairie Library System (RPLS) will be operating on a four-day work week.  Continuing education programs and training will continue, but on a reduced schedule.  Delivery routes will be evaluated for most efficient use of the 4-day delivery week. For additional information, visit.

Several other systems have meetings scheduled in the coming days and will we do our best to keep information flowing.  For example, the Alliance Library System (ALS), the DuPage Library System (DLS), the Metropolitan Library System (MLS), the North Suburban Library System (NSLS), and the Prairie Area Library System (PALS) Boards have schedule workshops on strategic for May and early June.  Workshops will include reviewing strategic restructuring options and discussing system mergers.

ILA Statewide Planning Initiative
Since November 2009, an LSTA funded statewide planning initiative of the Illinois Library Association (ILA) and the Illinois State Library has focused on core library cooperative services.  Services, structure, and funding task forces are working in conjunction with a steering committee chaired by ILA members Dee Brennan and Donna Dziedzic and with ILA staff support.

The scope of the initiative is to assess the current environment of collaborative library services in Illinois to create efficiencies and benefits for library patrons, including research and evaluation of comparative models and documentation of funding levels and projected expenses, and to propose solutions to maintain and improve services through existing or modified structures, including a plan for implementation, leadership, and political feasibility.

The recent system announcements, with more likely to come, has fast-tracked the outcomes of this planning initiative.  The ongoing work of three task forces will be reviewed by the steering committee and incorporated into focused advocacy efforts in the short term and strategic long range planning.

As you may know, there have been recent announcements of major reorganization of several of the regional systems based on on-going uncertainty of state funding.  The Illinois Library Systems Directors Organization (ILSDO) met with representatives of the state library on May 13, 2010, and determined that there was no clear sense of when or if funding would be received.

We know these changes are dramatic and the source of much concern within the library community.  The membership and leadership of ILA are committed to providing as much information as possible to our members and to continuing to work toward adaptive and responsive plans to reconfigure essential structures and funding for cooperative services.  The system boards are expected to submit requests for fully funded FY2011 area and per capita grants, but anticipated continued delays in funding have led some systems to make major adjustments in hopes of continuing core services, such as delivery and shared catalogs.  These have been identified through ILA statewide planning as those most valued by libraries and patrons, and are also those most likely to attract support.

As of this writing, here’s a brief overview of current system service changes and effective dates:

Effective May 31, 2010, Alliance Library System (ALS) will continue delivery services and support TSA and resource sharing.  The following services will be suspended until further notice: continuing education and consulting services; marketing, advocacy, or library promotional services; innovation and grant development services; web services.  Twenty-two staff staff members are being laid off as of May 28.  For additional information, visit

Effective June 30, 2010, Lewis & Clark Library System (LCLS) will continue delivery, LLSAP support and technology services.  As of that date, LCLS will no longer provide consulting, general continuing education (however, the already Summer School for School Librarians will still occur), marketing, advocacy, grant development, or human resources support. One full-time position has already been eliminated, and five additional staff members will be laid off. An acting director will be appointed to replace Tina Hubert, who recently announced her resignation. For additional information, visit

Effective May 31, 2010, North Suburban Library System (NSLS) will discontinue most services, though some will be maintained through June as a transition period. Van delivery remains the number one priority and will continue until further notice. Two part-time staff members will be available through June. For additional information, visit.

The Prairie Area Library System (PALS) reports, “In light of our fiscal reality, systems have agreed to focus on three priorities (a) delivery, (b) PrairieCat, and (c) restructuring.  Other services will be suspended until our state revenue stream is restored.”

Effective July 1, 2010, the Rolling Prairie Library System (RPLS) will be operating on a four-day work week.  Continuing education programs and training will continue, but on a reduced schedule.  Delivery routes will be evaluated for most efficient use of the 4-day delivery week. For additional information, visit.

Several other systems have meetings scheduled in the coming days and will we do our best to keep information flowing.  For example, the Alliance Library System (ALS), the DuPage Library System (DLS), the Metropolitan Library System (MLS), the North Suburban Library System (NSLS), and the Prairie Area Library System (PALS) Boards have schedule workshops on strategic for May and early June.  Workshops will include reviewing strategic restructuring options and discussing system mergers.

ILA Statewide Planning Initiative
Since November 2009, an LSTA funded statewide planning initiative of the Illinois Library Association (ILA) and the Illinois State Library has focused on core library cooperative services.  Services, structure, and funding task forces are working in conjunction with a steering committee chaired by ILA members Dee Brennan and Donna Dziedzic and with ILA staff support.

The scope of the initiative is to assess the current environment of collaborative library services in Illinois to create efficiencies and benefits for library patrons, including research and evaluation of comparative models and documentation of funding levels and projected expenses, and to propose solutions to maintain and improve services through existing or modified structures, including a plan for implementation, leadership, and political feasibility.

The recent system announcements, with more likely to come, has fast-tracked the outcomes of this planning initiative.  The ongoing work of three task forces will be reviewed by the steering committee and incorporated into focused advocacy efforts in the short term and strategic long range planning.

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