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RCLS Facts

Ramapo Catskill Library System

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 its 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 serves 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 and is not open to the public.

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 total budget in 2020 is $4,961,664. The System has 25 (FTE) employees, including four professional librarians and a business manager.

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 Automated Network SERvices (ANSER) a program that manages circulation, borrower registration, an online catalog, reserves and interloan. ANSER 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 ANSER.

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 loan 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 it 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. Another important service provided by RCLS is quarterly access to a preview collection of new and forth coming books for children and teens.

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 quarterly trustee newsletter (Trustee FYI) and the RCLS Weekly Memo.  The System’s website (www.rcls.org) provides access to all RCLS publications, including a library directory, a statistical compilation with key information about its members, and a System annual report (RCLS Highlights). A wide range of information about RCLS and resources for member library trustees and staff, as well as, links to the web sites and on-line catalogs of all member libraries can be found on the RCLS web site.


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.

2. Technology
Enhance and maintain existing automation services and assist member libraries in implementing emerging technologies to improve library service and cooperation.

3. 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.

4. Training
Provide opportunities to member libraries’ staff, directors and trustees for the training and skills development needed to support excellent library service and encourage participation in training opportunities to the fullest extent.

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

6. Communication
Maintain and promote effective means of communications with and among member libraries to ensure accountability and cooperation.

7. Organizational Environment
Maintain an organizational environment that allows RCLS to be responsive and accountable to member libraries.