About Us

SWAN (System Wide Automated Network), serving Illinois libraries since 1974, has a membership of 100 libraries throughout the Chicagoland area. SWAN’s strength is founded on providing a common platform of services and promoting collaboration among libraries. The ethos of sharing among libraries acts as an equalization against the existing inequities inherent in the hyper segregated suburban Chicago metropolitan region. Our organization goal is to provide exemplar service and learning opportunities to all members of our shared communities.

We connect a 1.9 million service population with their community library. To this end, SWAN built a shared online public catalog with nearly 8 million items available to library users. This is a unique collection of materials, e-content, and library events. The diversity and breadth of the region is reflected in the combined collection of material which includes 98 languages ranging from Afrikaans to Zulu.

SWAN hosts networking opportunities and knowledge sharing among the 2,000+ member library staff.

Our individual library communities represent a wide range of economic, racial, and ethnic diversity.

  • We serve small to large sized communities with population ranging from 434 to 80,801
  • Racial composition includes communities with over 90% black, white, and Hispanic ethnicities. Others are more diverse and less segregated.
  • Poverty rate percentage ranges from 3% to 42%
  • Foreign born resident percentage of population ranges from 2% to 33% 
  • A shared online public access catalog with nearly 10 million items available to patrons
  • Centralized cataloging and software services that save library staff valuable time and money
  • A unique collection of materials from public, college, and special libraries across Illinois
  • 24/7 support to library staff—including IT, consulting, training, documentation, and tutorials
  • Networking opportunities and knowledge/resource-sharing among the 2,000+ member library staff, as well as professional memberships to OCLC, COSUGI, and more
  • Library accessibility through modern technology like Linked Data (making library catalog materials discoverable to the World Wide Web and search engines) and easy procurement of materials; patrons can receive a variety of alerts like email or SMS/text message notifications, in a variety of languages (English, Spanish, Polish, and more)

SWAN libraries are within the boundaries of Cook, DuPage, Kane, and Will counties in Illinois, representing approximately 25% of population in these counties.