Recently, Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White approved the mergers of the nine Illinois Regional Library Systems into two. Effective Friday, July 1, 2011, the Metropolitan Library System (MLS), DuPage Library System (DLS), North Suburban Library System (NSLS), Alliance Library System (ALS), and Prairie Area Library System (PALS) will merge into the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS). On that same date, the Lewis & Clark Library System (LSLS), Lincoln Trail Library System (LTLS), Rolling Prairie Library System (RPLS), and Shawnee Library System (SLS) will merge into the Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS).
The Illinois State Library (ISL) states, “Secretary White commends the Merger Transition Boards, the System Executive Directors and many committee members who have worked so hard to achieve the mergers. While State Library staff has served as a resource to maintain compliance with state law, the merger work has been the responsibility of the Library System Boards at the regional level.”
Secretary White and the ISL congratulate the two people recommended by the Merger Transition Boards to be hired July 1st as Interim Executive Directors: Ellen Popit at IHLS and Michael Piper at RAILS, as well as the individuals elected to the new RAILS Board and the new IHLS Board.
Ellen Popit has hitherto been Interim Executive Director of the Shawnee Library System (SLS), headquartered in Carterville, Illinois, which serves thirty-one counties in southernmost Illinois. Previously, she had been Youth Services Consultant with the SLS for about eighteen years. She earned a B.A. from St. Mary’s College, in 1974, and a MLS from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – New Brunswick, in 1975.
Michael C. Piper has hitherto been Executive Director of the Prairie Area Library System (PALS), which supports libraries in twenty-seven counties of Northern Illinois and Eastern Iowa, since September 1, 2009. [The three counties in Iowa served by PALS are Clinton, Scott, and Muscatine.] The PALS has office/service facilities in three Illinois communities: Rockford (in far Northern Illinois), Coal Valley (on the border with Iowa), and Shorewood (an exurb of Chicago).
His own office has been in Rockford. On his public Linked-in profile he states, “I believe in the magic of collaboration, when librarians from diverse settings work together to empower all types and sizes of libraries to deliver high-level services far beyond the means of any single organization operating on its own.”
Before that, he was Executive Director of the Indiana Cooperative Library Services Authority (INCOLSA) from June of 2004 to June of 2009. [I must warn readers if one looks up “Michael C. Piper” on the Internet, one will also find references to Michael Collins Piper, a conspiracy theorist and radio talk show host who works in Washington, D.C.] M.C. Piper earned his B.A. at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and his MLS from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1983.
Piper was an executive assistant at the Kansas Library Network Board from November of 1983 to December of 1987. He was Executive Director of the Kansas Library Network Board from January of 1988 to June of 1998.
From July of 1998 to February of 2001, he was Director of the Library Resource Sharing Division of the Texas State Library & Archives Commission (TSLAC). According to PALS, while he was Director of the Library Resource Sharing Division, Piper “authored a 5-year $40 million grant-funded statewide digital library initiative.” A grant application I found on the Web indicates this involved approximately 600 academic and public libraries.
From March of 2001 to May of 2004, he was Executive Director of the Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET). The latter describes itself as “a multi-type library consortium located in Southeast Michigan. The consortium, incorporated in 1985, is open to academic, public, school and special libraries as well as information organizations in the seven county Metropolitan Detroit region (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair, Monroe, Livingston and Washtenaw counties).”
The ISL states it “looks forward to working closely with the new RAILS Board and the IHLS Board to strengthen libraries and library services in Illinois.”