For over 60 years, the North Country Library System has been serving 65 libraries in Jefferson, Lewis,Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties – a geographical area of approximately 6,200 square miles. In so large a space, where the majority of the libraries are small and rural, the connection the library system provides is arguably as important as our shared services.

New directors and trustees receive their orientation from NCLS, and our system staff conducts classes and workshops throughout the year for library staff and trustees, including funding and advocacy, strategic planning, online resources, and early literacy. Sometimes, these classes are held at the NCLS service center inWatertown, but we’re also just as likely to be found out in the field, working with our member libraries one-on-one or in small groups.

System staff hits the road as often as we can, making over 300 library visits a year. We attend library board meetings, town board meetings, school board meetings. And when we’re not able to visit in person, phone conversations, e-mail, and videoconferencing ensure that we’re able to keep in touch remotely.

The NCLS core services are Consulting, Technology, Outreach and Delivery.  Over the past two years we have bought wireless access points and firewalls for al 65 libraries, started a program that allows libraries to purchase computers and pay for them over five years, plus we’ve added Overdrive eMagazines, Consumer Reports, Ancestry and Beanstack for all members.

Once a year, we all come together for the NCLS annual meeting, an afternoon professional development, followed by an evening of awards and fun. For some of our libraries, especially those who are unable to travel to conferences, our annual meeting is the one time during the year that they can share stories and ideas with others who do what they do.

The success of NCLS rests on the trust, rapport, and exchange of ideas between system staff and the staff and trustees in our member libraries.  Fostering these relationships helps us improve library service to patrons throughout our four counties and makes the distance between us all seem a little shorter.