The Library Resources Enrichment Program

While the systems were developing in good order, there were still concerns that many member libraries lacked adequate collections and services. As a result, the State Library initiated a 1972 program to expand the collections in Illinois libraries. The Library Resources Enrichment Program (LREP) distributed federal funds to all 18 library systems on a per-capita basis to purchase materials, particularly reference and nonfiction materials, for system collections. The plan was to increase the acquisitions of nonfiction materials for system collections. In addition, the project monitored the procedures for member libraries responsible for acquiring material on the local level. The ultimate goal was to meet “the immediate informational, vocational, cultural, and recreational needs” of library users.738

The first grants were issued in 1972 and intended for the acquisition of reference materials. The following year, monies were distributed for acquiring adult nonfiction. Library Resources Enrichment Project grants were also awarded in 1974 and 1976, just before the project’s termination. The LREP may be considered one of the most successful of all federally funded projects at the State Library during the decade. It allowed system libraries to substantially improve their reference and bibliographic resources while enhancing adult nonfiction collections. The LREP also benefitted smaller member libraries with inadequate materials budgets.739

The film library was part of cooperative efforts involving the Suburban Library System and the Suburban Audio-Visual Service.

The film library was part of cooperative efforts involving the Suburban Library System and the Suburban Audio-Visual Service.

By the 1970s, all 18 systems were well-funded, wellorganized, and actively providing library service to their patrons. There were growing pains, such as the reciprocal borrowing issue and occasional battles of will among the directors of the systems, who sometimes competed against each other and clashed with State Library administration. Still, there is little question that each system had come a long way in the few years since their creation. The State Library had relinquished many of its former duties to the systems and also provided the financial support to ensure continued system development. System development was the top priority in Meeting the Challenge, the primary blueprint for library service. As a result, system grants were increased from 50 cents to 70 cents per capita in 1973, with an increase from $18 to $25 in area grants. Despite inevitable challenges, Illinois’ new library systems ended the decade off to a good start.740