“One System, One Card”

A Short History of SWLS

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) created the framework for library systems in 1974. Since then, systems have worked behind the scenes to support public libraries in ways that allow them to serve you better than they could if each had to stand alone. It is not surprising that library system services tend to be invisible to most library users. So, if you don’t know what a library system is, or even that we exist, we invite you to take this short informational ‘tour.’

According to the American Library Association, there are at least 9,000 public libraries in the United States. Many of them are members of library systems, regional libraries, library districts, or other networks that vary in kind from place to place. Each library system is governed by a citizen board of trustees that represents the system’s geographical service area. Each year library systems submit a plan to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that meets the DPI’s service mandates.

SWLS is one of 15 library systems in Wisconsin. It provides a great diversity of resources to the member libraries in its five-county service area. This increases the types and quality of services that the region’s 28 public libraries (and 2 branches) offer to the people of Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Lafayette, and Richland Counties.

Shared Resources & System Services

“One System, One Card”

Allows residents to borrow and return materials at any of the 28 member public and two branch libraries throughout the five-county service area. Adjacent library systems may also honor the SWLS system card due to long-standing reciprocal borrowing agreements between some Wisconsin library systems.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Requests

From library users like you are posted to VERSO, the SWLS shared automation network. They are then processed and routed throughout the Southwest Wisconsin Library System; if unfilled within our immediate network, they are routed to other Wisconsin library systems, out-of-state libraries, and even to the Library of Congress to fulfill your requests.

Collection Development Consultants

Are available to help your librarian build your library’s collection of materials to keep it fresh and dynamic, and may also involve Space Planning & Interior Design considerations.

SWLS Van Delivery

Provides regular and speedy delivery of Interlibrary Loan requests, equipment, and needed supplies to member libraries within the SWLS service area. It is also one of the many delivery “links” connecting us with 16 other Wisconsin Library systems and their members.

Continuing Education

Workshops are offered to inform librarians about changes in library and information services so that they are better able to serve you. And it is through these workshops that librarians earn the necessary Continuing Education hours for maintaining their Public Librarian Certification. Continuing Education standards and certification requirements are defined and monitored by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

Reference/Professional Collections

Including journals, books, audio-visual, and other resources are maintained at SWLS Headquarters to aid the librarians and their staff with program planning, materials selection, and self-education.

Youth & Inclusive Services

Coordinated by system consultants, include Summer Library Program workshops, Continuing Education opportunities, grant writing assistance, program planning, and project development.

Automation Services

Provides consulting and computer support for all 28 SWLS member public libraries (plus two branches). Twenty-seven of the 28 belong to NETSouthwest and share VERSO, a web-based, automated circulation system managed by SWLS.

Modified 10.06.21