Brief Overview

What is a Library System?

Northern Waters Library Service is one of Wisconsin's seventeen regional public library systems. Library system services include:

  • Ensuring that residents have access to public library service
  • Promoting and coordinating resource sharing among libraries
  • Providing technical and financial support to improve the quality of public library service 
  • Providing training and continuing education for library staff 
  • Coordinating cooperative library technology projects

Systems are organized under Chapter 43 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which also outlines the services they provide and lists the requirements for membership in a library system. Public library system funding from the state represents the state's commitment to preserve and improve local public libraries. System programs, grants and services are vital in providing the effective and responsive local libraries.

Northern Waters, founded in 1964, is one of Wisconsin’s oldest public library systems. It serves Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Sawyer, Vilas and Washburn counties.

As outlined below, most library system services are provided to member libraries rather than directly to patrons. Member libraries are independently governed and funded, but they contract for services with a library system.

Services of Northern Waters include: