Chartered in 1959, the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS), a cooperative public library system, is dedicated to delivering high-quality consolidated and cooperative services to support member libraries in meeting the needs of their communities.

RCLS serves 47 chartered public libraries in urban, suburban and rural settings within Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and a part of southern Ulster Counties. Our service area encompasses a total of 2,467 square miles with a population of 803,351. The RCLS headquarters is located in Middletown, in the geographic center of our service area.

Working cooperatively with our member libraries we provide coordinated services, guidance, training, support and leadership to our member library trustees, staff and Library Friends groups. The services we offer are an integral component in the capacity of member libraries to enhance the quality of life, make the best use of their resources and advance the economies within their communities. Our goal is to help our member libraries sustain their effort to be responsive, proactive, vital community institutions that meet the changing needs of their users. We also help to raise awareness about library services and work to eliminate barriers to library access and use.

The System is governed by an eleven member Board of Trustees and a non-voting member who represents the Directors Association. The System has 25.4 (FTE) employees, including five professional librarians and a fiscal officer.

In partnership with the RCLS Central Library (Newburgh Free Library) members are provided access to electronic databases and digital downloads of ebooks, audiobooks, videos and music. At the end of 2012 the total holdings of all member libraries was in excess of 7.2 million items and circulation topped 6.2 million.

RCLS operates a delivery service five days a week which transports library materials between and among member libraries. In 2012 RCLS delivered just over 3.5 million items.

An integral part of our services is to offer member libraries access to a centralized integrated library system and automation support. Working with our members and a private sector partner we developed a private fiber-optic telecommunication network in 2007 linking all of our member locations. In 2011 we virtualized our central site computer facility to improve flexibility, responsiveness and reduce operating costs. We are currently engaged in research and development to test and determine the feasibility of establishing a private cloud. This would permit us to offer our members software as a service (SaaS), significantly reducing operating costs at the central site and helping the libraries reduce local operating costs as well as cutting utility costs by as much as 90%, while increasing functionality.

Consulting and technical support is a major component of our services. In 2012 we recorded 18,262 contacts with our member libraries.

One of our key advocacy events each year is our Legislative Breakfast and Annual Meeting. In 2013 we had 154 trustees, staff, Friends of the Libraries and library champions (library users who are willing to stand up and tell our legislators how their library made a difference in their life). Every state legislator representing our service area was in attendance or was represented by an aide.