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Illinois Heartland Library System. Imagining Tomorrow, Delivering Possibilities Today



Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) helps our member libraries deliver exceptional service to their communities. From supporting continuing education to delivering interlibrary loan materials, we're here to serve you. 

Who is IHLS?

As one of three regional library systems in Illinois—and one of two multi-type library systems—we are the library's support partner, serving libraries of all types (publics, schools, academics, and specials) and the staff and trustees that work for them. IHLS provides interlibrary loan delivery service, access to digital collections and the SHARE automation consortium, continuing education and networking opportunities for library staff, discounts and group purchases, access to state grant opportunities, and more.

Our service area includes southern and parts of central Illinois.

IHLS provides the following services:

  • facilitates access to shared resources through interlibrary loan delivery service and support of the SHARE automation consortium
  • advocates for libraries and provides tools for libraries to advocate for themselves,
  • fosters networking opportunities,
  • negotiates member discounts and group purchases,
  • promotes innovation and the development of community partnerships, 
  • develops and shares continuing education opportunities, including our annual IHLS Member Day, a free day of continuing education for IHLS libraries, 
  • facilitates access to statewide programs, including grant opportunities, and
  • offers collection cataloging support through the Cataloging Maintenance Center.

Funding for Illinois library systems is provided by the Illinois State Library and the Illinois Secretary of State from revenue appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly or granted under the federal Library Services and Technology Act.


IHLS By the Numbers

IHLS covers 28,368 square miles and serves a population of 2,160,469.

There are 521 member libraries: 29 Academic, 227 Public, 235 School, and 29 Special.

Of the 521 IHLS member libraries, 338 at 467 locations participate in the IHLS automation consortium known as SHARE.


How We Support Our Member Libraries


Libraries lean on IHLS to facilitate, support, and promote resource sharing so libraries can provide a much greater pool of library resources to their patrons than they could do alone. The most visible way we support resource sharing is through interlibrary delivery services throughout southern and parts of central Illinois. We also provide in-kind and financial support to SHARE, North America's largest automated resource-sharing consortium.


One of the best sources of professional development is through the conversations and connections made between working libraries, both same-type and multi-type. IHLS develops regular virtual and (usually) in-person opportunities for networking, including weekly text-based Directors' Chats, quarterly hybrid-form Members Matter meetings, our annual IHLS Member Day, and more.


Our Membership Team works hard to discover member library's information needs and to help librarians fill in the gaps through workshops, mini-presentations at networking events, and timely and dynamic programming at our annual IHLS Member Day (an all-day conference opportunity made accessible to even the smallest of libraries by offering member attendance at no cost to them). We also seek individual and group-purchase discounts for training offered by Library 2.0, Library Works, and other quality training organizations.


IHLS alerts librarians to important issues affecting the library community and works with the Illinois Library Association and others to address these issues. IHLS also works with these organizations to advocate for the role of libraries and library staff in order to build stronger libraries and stronger communities.


When the Illinois library world is shaken, members can look to IHLS for leadership and guidance. Particularly during the rapid changes of the first several months of the pandemic, IHLS helped libraries navigate through quickly changing and ambiguous legal requirements, best practices, and technology needs.


Contact Us

Resources and advice are just a phone call, email, or click away.

If your library is an existing member and needs support, or if your library resides in the IHLS service area and is not yet a system member, please contact our membership team to discuss your library’s situation or to learn more about free membership opportunities.

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Mission Statement

To support member libraries of all types in providing quality library services. IHLS facilitates access to shared resources, advocates for libraries, promotes innovation and develops community partnerships.


Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) empowers libraries to embrace innovation and collaboration.


IHLS staff and board commit to the following values in the management and operation of IHLS

  • Innovation and leadership
    • We are innovative and creative and exercise leadership in developing programs and services that meet the needs of IHLS diverse multi-type libraries.
  • Engagement
    • We engage members and draw on their expertise in the development and improvement of programs and services.
  • Integrity and Respect
    • We operate IHLS ethically with accountability and transparency.
    • Our diverse staff works together with trust and respect for our individual talents in order to provide the best service possible.
  • Collaboration
    • We value collaboration among members with other library organizations and community partners.
  • Communication
    • We practice clear and open communication with members, staff, and other stakeholders.


  1. Resource Sharing
    • IHLS facilitates, supports, and promotes resource sharing to assist member libraries of all types to be of service to their users.
  2. Member Engagement and Networking
    • IHLS communicates with and engages member libraries of all types and promotes member networking to assist libraries in improving their services.
  3. Consulting and CE
    • IHLS provides information and assistance to member libraries of all types through consulting and continuing education to improve the expertise of their staff.
  4. Leadership and Innovation
    • IHLS provides leadership and embraces innovation to assist member libraries of all types to better serve their users.
  5. Advocacy
    • IHLS advocates for the role of libraries and library staff to build strong libraries and strong communities.
  6. Stewardship and Sustainability
    • IHLS stewards its resources to ensure maximum benefit to member libraries of all types and to taxpayers.

A Brief History of Illinois Library Systems

In July 2011, four southern/central systems merged into one larger multi-type system called Illinois Heartland Library System. Those four library systems were Lewis & Clark Library System, Lincoln Trail Libraries System, Rolling Prairie Library System, and Shawnee Library System. Five northern/central systems also merged into one larger multi-type system called Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System, or RAILS. Those library systems were Alliance Library System, DuPage Library System, Metropolitan Library System, North Suburban Library System, and Prairie Area Library System. A third library system, Chicago Public Library (CPL), includes public libraries in the City of Chicago; RAILS services the other library types in Chicago. Learn more about Illinois library systems on the Illinois Secretary of State webpage.

IHLS Staff Photo (Staff Day 2023)

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Illinois Heartland Library System is a not-for-profit organization established under the Illinois Library Systems Act.

Funding for Illinois library systems is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State from revenue appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly or provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. 

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