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RCLS: About the Ramapo Catskill Library System: Mission & Goals

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RCLS Background

The Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) is a non-profit, cooperative public library system chartered in 1959 by the New York State Board of Regents. RCLS working cooperatively with member libraries, provides coordinated services, guidance, training, support, and leadership to member library trustees and staff to sustain their effort to be responsive, proactive, vital community institutions that meet the changing needs of their users in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and southern Ulster counties. Working in cooperation with member libraries, RCLS helps to raise awareness about library services and works to eliminate barriers to library access and use.

The Ramapo Catskill Library System supports 47 chartered public libraries in urban, suburban, and rural settings encompassing a total of 2,459 square miles with a population of 803,351 (2010 US Census). Each library has its own Board of Trustees and Director. The RCLS headquarters is located in Middletown.

The System is governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees who are unsalaried and whom the member libraries’ trustees elect for five (5) year terms at the System’s Annual Meeting. The Board also includes a non-voting member who represents the Directors Association.

The primary source of income for the System is state aid earned according to the formula established in New York State Education Law. RCLS also competes for grants to fund special projects for new and existing library services. The System has 25 (FTE) employees, including four professional librarians and a CFO.

RCLS is a member of the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council (SENYLRC), which is a state-funded, multi-type library cooperative that offers multi-county interloan; Library Trustees Association of New York State (LTA); New York Library Association (NYLA); and the American Library Association (ALA).

The System provides an Integrated Library System (ILS), a service that manages circulation, borrower registration, an online catalog, reserves, and interloan. RCLS also provides access to a fiber optic wide-area network linking all member libraries, statistical reporting of collection use, and other relevant data and cataloging services. Member libraries pay for most of the operating costs of ILS and IT services.

In partnership with the RCLS Central Library (Newburgh Free Library) members are provided access to electronic database access and digital downloads of ebooks, audiobooks, videos, and music. At the end of 2019 the total holdings of all member libraries, which can be searched through an easy-to-use Web interface, was in excess of 13.8 million items.

RCLS operates a delivery service five days a week which transports library materials between and among member libraries. This service facilitates interlibrary loans between RCLS libraries as well as the libraries within the Mid-Hudson Library System. The delivery service also makes it possible for library users to return materials to any library within the System and have them delivered to the appropriate library. In 2019 RCLS delivered just over 3.2 million items.

Supporting member libraries is the primary responsibility of the System and one important means of achieving this goal is through a broad range of consulting services offered by the RCLS management team. 

Maintaining a professional collection (5,929 volumes) covering all aspects of librarianship is one way the System helps to keep member library trustees and staff up to date on library issues and trends. In addition, the System regularly publishes and distributes a trustee newsletter (Trustee Chronicle) and the RCLS Bi-Weekly Memo.  The System’s website (www.rcls.org) provides access to all RCLS publications, including a statistical compilation with key information about member libraries. A wide range of information about RCLS services and resources for member library trustees and staff, as well as, links to the websites and online catalogs of all member libraries can be found on the RCLS website.


We deliver high-quality, cost-effective consolidated, and cooperative services to support member libraries in meeting the needs of their communities.


  1. Coordinated Services

Offer a clearly defined set of cost-effective consolidated and coordinated services designed to enhance local library achievement and maximize the value of local funds expended.

  1. Technology
    Assist member libraries in implementing emerging technologies to improve library service and enhance and maintain a cybersecurity environment where everyone is responsible.

  1. Resource Sharing

Coordinate Central Library and System activities to provide a broad range of services and online resources to support equity of access for all residents.

  1. Training
    Provide opportunities to member libraries' staff, directors, and trustees for the training and skills development needed to support excellent library service.

  1. Advocacy

Actively work to increase awareness about the value and importance of library services and help strengthen member libraries in their advocacy efforts.

  1. Communication
    Maintain and promote effective means of communication with and among member libraries and RCLS.

  1. Marketing

Empower library advocates to become brand ambassadors and increase mindfulness of library services value to community members.