Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

Six regional library systems look at merger
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff
print story
email story
Published: 5/27/2010 10:59 AM | Updated: 5/27/2010 4:31 PM

Send To:





With state officials not making good on promised payments, six of Illinois' financially struggling regional library systems are talking about merging, officials said.

The discussions come the same week as one of the most prominent systems - the North Suburban Library System, which covers much of the North and Northwest suburbs - is preparing to lay off staff and reduce services.

No decisions have been made, said Sarah Long, the longtime executive director of the NSLS, who is losing her job this weekend as part of the layoffs.

"It's nothing concrete at this point," Long said. "We're still talking."

According to Long, the organizations discussing merging are:

•The NSLS, which serves libraries in Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties.

•The Metropolitan Library System, which serves libraries in Chicago and some suburbs.

•The DuPage Library System, which serves DuPage County.

•The Alliance Library System, which is based in East Peoria.

•The Prairie Area Library System, which is based in Rockford.

•The Lewis & Clark Library System, which is based in downstate Edwardsville.

Merging could save administrative costs and other expenses, officials have said.

A decision, however, could be more than a month away, Long said - not in time to save the jobs of the 16 NSLS workers being let go this weekend.

"There isn't even a proposal," she said. "At this point, there's not a next step. It's very, very early."

Illinois has nine regional library systems. They are supposed to be funded through the state budget by the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State's office.

The budgets for all of the systems were reduced this year. Additionally, millions of dollars in payments due from the state are late, officials have said.

Despite the layoffs at the Wheeling-based NSLS, services still are at risk - particularly the organization's delivery service, which allows libraries to share materials. Funding for that enterprise may run out by mid-June, Long has said.

Other NSLS programs set to be eliminated include an electronic newsletter, a job-posting service and a pod cast.