The Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) is one of two multitype regional library systems in the state. The membership of RAILS includes academic, public, school, and special libraries.
RAILS was formed in 2011, through the merger of the Alliance, DuPage, Metropolitan, North Suburban, and Prairie Area library systems. Documentation of the merger process is available on the http://www.systemsmerger.info website.
RAILS provides delivery service to support Illinois’ vast interlibrary loan program, technology support for more than 800 libraries’ electronic catalogs, and Talking Book Services that serve persons with visual or physical disabilities who cannot read conventional print material.
The RAILS service area covers northern and western Illinois. The system serves more than 1500 public, private, university, and school library members, representing more than 3700 library facilities in a 27,000 square mile area. Although the city of Chicago is within RAILS' boundaries, and a number of RAILS member libraries are located in Chicago, the Chicago Public Library constitutes a separate library system.
Library systems are established by state law (75 ILCS 10/, the Illinois Library System Act). Funding for Illinois Library Systems is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State, with funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly.