Frequently Asked Questions Illinois State Library

General  •  Organization  •  Frequency


What is library delivery?
Library delivery in Illinois the physical transportation of cataloged physical library materials from one library to another in order to fulfill the request of a library user. Delivery also includes the return of the materials to the owning library or sending the item onward to meet the requests of other users.

Who provides the funding to support delivery?
Library delivery in Illinois is funded by the Illinois State Library through grants to three organizations to provide the delivery service. The organizations are the Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS), the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), and the Illinois Library Delivery System managed by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI).

What is resource sharing and why is it important?
Resource sharing is the ability of any resident of the state who has borrowing privileges at any library in the state to freely request and obtain materials from any other library in the state.

Resource sharing has been the foundation of statewide library service in Illinois for over 50 years. Resource sharing requires the collaboration of library users, library agencies, consortia and librarians. Examples include I-Share, SHARE, CCS, Pinnacle, PrairieCat, RRLC, RSA or SWAN. A request may also be made through traditional Interlibrary Loan using OCLC or other methods.

What items are allowed to travel in delivery?
In the opinion of the Illinois Secretary of State's Legal Counsel, any items that can be cataloged within a library are deliverable through the library delivery service.

Items that are typically mailed through the U.S. Postal Service should not be sent through library delivery, including overdue notices, letters, memos, or loan request forms (except when the form is traveling with the loaned item itself).

What organizations are entitled to delivery?
As specified in the administrative rules governing library systems [23 Ill. Adm. Code 3030], each ILLINET member library is entitled to one delivery stop at no direct cost.

Does every ILLINET member library mean every library building?
No. Each library agency that is an ILLINET member is entitled to delivery at no cost to one location. [See the discussion of Community Delivery Partnerships below for further information.]

How can a library agency obtain additional delivery service?
A library may contract with a delivery service provider, including a library system or ILDS, to obtain additional fee-for-service delivery. The contracting library is responsible for the cost of the additional service. Fees are set by the service provider, in consultation with the Illinois State Library.

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Organization of Delivery Service in Illinois

Who is responsible for delivery in Illinois?
Delivery to public, school, most special and selected academic libraries is organized and managed by one of three organizations:

  1. IHLS Delivery
  2. ILDS Delivery managed by CARLI
  3. RAILS Delivery

How is my service provider determined?
Public libraries school libraries, most special libraries and selected academic libraries receive their delivery from the library system that serves their geographic region.

An individual library is served from one of 10 regional hubs. Centers in Champaign, Du Quoin and Edwardsville serve IHLS libraries and centers in Burr Ridge, Coal Valley, East Peoria, Geneva Rockford, Shorewood and Wheeling serve RAILS members, including school and special libraries in the City of Chicago.

Most academic libraries and the regional system hubs are served by ILDS. ILDS serves as the connecting backbone that makes efficient statewide service possible. The Chicago Public Library is connected to the rest of the Illinois library community through an ILDS stop at the Harold Washington Library Center. CPL operates its own delivery to its extensive branch library system.

ILDS and some parts of the RAILS delivery service are provided under contract to commercial courier companies. The remainder of RAILS and all of IHLS service is provided by staff employed by library systems. Libraries with very low resource sharing volumes and/or located in remote areas may receive delivery by USPS. In all cases, delivery to the primary library location is provided at no direct cost to the library or the requesting patron.

Delivery Frequency

What is the desired frequency of delivery for all ILLINET libraries?
The goal is to provide statewide delivery 5 days each week (Monday-Friday) to support resource sharing for the residents of Illinois.

How is the frequency of my delivery determined?
The most common method for determining delivery frequency currently is by the volume of material carried in delivery for the participating library.

However, a variety of means for establishing delivery frequency have been employed as resource sharing has evolved and especially with the incorporation of automated processes and integrated library systems. A library's current delivery frequency may be an artifact of historical system service patterns, including the design of effective routes and the availability of funding.

Delivery frequency may also be determined contractually or through negotiation with the service provider. When the statewide ILDS backbone was redesigned, the service was outsourced with the stipulation that all direct ILDS stops would receive 5-day per week service.

Are there uniform standards for determining delivery frequency based on volume?
Yes, where delivery volume is used to determine service frequency, the following standard may be applied.

What is counted to determine delivery volume?
Delivery volume for libraries that receive delivery from the library systems is calculated based on one week sample counts conducted four times per year or by direct counts by the library system.

Libraries that are direct stops on ILDS receive 5-day per week delivery and are, thus, not subject to the volume standards. Nevertheless, each participating library does an actual count of materials sent and where it is sent each day.

Community Delivery Partnerships

What is a Community Delivery Partnership?
A Community Delivery Partnership (CDP) is an agreement between two or more ILLINET member libraries to have all library materials requested by a patron of any participating library delivered to a single designated location. The delivery location may be one of the participating libraries or a conveniently located community drop box. The participants in a CDP work with the delivery service provider (IHLS, RAILS, ILDS, etc.) to establish the delivery location and ensure that all materials intended for the participating libraries are directed to the delivery location in a timely manner.

The key to understanding the Community Delivery Partnership concept is that the group of libraries partnering for delivery actually "create the community."

Please see the Community Delivery Partnerships webpage for more details.