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At Illinois Heartland Library System, we're here to help our member libraries provide exceptional library services to the residents they serve. From providing delivery services between libraries for resource sharing, to seeking legal advice on state orders, to seeking and providing continuing education opportunities for library staff, we're here to serve YOU.


Who We Are and What We Do

Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) is a quasi-governmental, not-for-profit organization that supports the libraries of southern and parts of central Illinois.

As one of the three library systems in Illinois--and one of two multi-type library systems--IHLS is the library's support partner, serving libraries of all types and the librarians, paralibrarians, and trustees that work for them.

IHLS facilitates access to shared resources through interlibrary loan delivery service and support of the SHARE automation consortiumadvocates for libraries and provides tools for libraries to advocate for themselves; facilitates networking opportunities; negotiates member discounts and group purchases; promotes innovation and the development of community partnerships; and develops and shares continuing education opportunities, including an annual IHLS Member Day, a free day of continuing education available to IHLS member libraries of all types and offering Professional Development Hours for school librarians. 

IHLS also provides access to statewide programs including grant opportunities and cataloging support through both the Cataloging Maintenance Center.


map of IHLS service area

IHLS By the Numbers

IHLS covers 28,141 square miles and serves a population of 2,248,634.

There are 524 member libraries: 30 Academic, 227 Public, 235 School and 32 Special.

Of the 524 IHLS member libraries, 341 at 476 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

If your library resides in the state-set IHLS service area and is not yet a member,
contact membership specialists 
Ellen Popit and Anna Yackle
to learn more about free membership opportunities.

If your library is an existing member and you'd like to connect,
please contact membership specialists 
Ellen Popit and Anna Yackle 
to schedule a virtual visit!



The Illinois Heartland Library System Mission

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.



photograph of Illinois Heartland Library System staf, July 2019