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:
- Interlibrary loan and reference/referral service
- Delivery service, which provides a quick, efficient and cost-effective method to move shared resources among libraries
- Technology infrastructure that meets the demands on libraries in their role as providers of a range of public access computing services
- Technology training, support and consultation
- Workshops on topics relevant to the practice of sound librarianship
- System-wide grants, written by NWLS staff, for program and service enhancements - totaling more than a million dollars in the past 20 years
- Cash grants for developing local collections
- Consulting services (planning, policies, budgeting, grant writing, bookkeeping, collection development, services to special populations, children's services, legal issues affecting libraries, hiring library staff, certification issues, web page design, cataloging and technology)
- A monthly electronic newsletter of library news and events
- Completion of E-rate and TEACH forms for telecommunications discounts
- Assistance with annual reports
- The Merlin shared automation system, which facilitates resource sharing among member libraries with integrated software and a public online catalog
- Cooperative cataloging for the regional and state online catalogs shared by member libraries
- Mail-A-Book service