The Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System is a 36-member, two-county Western New York system serving the cities of Jamestown, Olean, and Dunkirk plus a sprawling rural area with concerns about population and manufacturing declines; the prevalence of low- income, part-time employment; limited educational attainment and functional literacy; and the digital divide.

The system offers databases, interlibrary loan, print shop, newsletter, professional collection, deposit collections, downloadable materials, and a computer training lab. All members depend on centralized ordering and processing and the twice-weekly delivery of materials; many also benefit from payroll services. Unique challenges are the libraries’ geographic isolation from the rest of the state and from one another; the lack of a professional degree among the majority of library managers; and the fact that some members still must automate in order to join the online system catalog.

The system offers continuing education opportunities, field consultant expertise, and financial support to help member libraries address challenges such as annual reports, state construction grants, collection development, and technology training. Libraries are encouraged to be accessible, essential, customer-focused centers that help individuals reach their potential and make their communities a better place to live.

A speaker representing Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Western New York Affiliate, speaks to an audience at the Olean Public Library as part of a project called “Empowered by Information: Libraries Help Cattaraugus County Address Breast Cancer.” Funding awarded to the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System enabled each Cattaraugus County library to add a collection of books and DVDs about breast cancer, provided free breast cancer education information to all System libraries, and made three programs by breast cancer survivors possible.

As part of their field visits, System staff members learn more about the Clymer-French Creek Free Library.