The Monroe County Library System is a federation of the 20 independent public libraries which serve Monroe County. It includes the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County and the Rochester Public Library’s branch library system; 19 town libraries in Brighton; Brockport;, Chili; East Rochester; Fairport; Gates; Greece; Hamlin; Henrietta; Irondequoit; Mendon; Ogden; Parma; Penfield; Pittsford; Riga; Rush; Scottsville; Webster. Only one, Fairport Public Library, is a school district library and three; Scottsville; Ogden and Riga are association libraries. In all there are 33 library building outlets.

The system is organized as a two tier governmental service. The system itself, at the first tier (county level) is governed by a board of trustees appointed by the County Legislature. It derives its support for operations from state aid and county funds and provides for its member libraries those services which are most economically and efficiently performed centrally. These include the operation the system’s ILS; internet; cataloging; interlibrary loan; delivery service and grant program administration.

The Monroe County Library System Board of Trustees contracts with the Rochester Public Library for delivery of all systems services to its member libraries and employs, under contract, the Director of the Rochester Public Library as its System Director. The board and director, working with member library staff and trustees provide overall direction for the development and evaluation of library system services in the county.

The member libraries at the second-tier (local level) are governed by their own separate boards of trustees and derive most of their support for operations from local city; town; village or school distract taxes (except the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County which is county funded). Each member library is autonomous and provides for the direct benefit of the local constituency, the physical facilities, materials collections, programs and services best planned and administered at the local level.

The Central Library of the Rochester Public Library serves as the central library for the entire system, backstopping the collections and services of local libraries through inter library loan and direct borrower access. The public services operations at the Central Library are financed by the County of Monroe through a reimbursement agreement with the City of Rochester. The Rochester Public Library Board of Trustees, in conjunction with the system board and with leadership provided by the jointly employed director, staffs and administers the library on the county’s behalf.

The glue which holds the entire system together is a series of contractual agreements between the system board and member library boards of trustees. The system agrees to provide the centralized services described above, while the members agree to allow free access to their materials and services to all residents of Monroe County through reciprocal borrowing and return privileges and inter library loan. The entire system agrees on the “One County One Card” philosophy and all share the same MCLS logo library card which can be used in any public library in the county.