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The Robert R. Jones Public Library was begun as a tax-supported township library by voter referendum in 1967.  However, the Coal Valley Unit, Homemaker's Extension Association began a library as a community service project in the early 1940s.  The library had no permanent home, and the collection was stored in garages and other facilities when no suitable location could be secured.

Even before passage of the referendum, the building at First Street and Rte 150 was renovated for use as a library.  This property, donated by Dr. Robert R. Jones had been a residence owned by his uncle John Studer.  Additions were completed in 1973 and 1980 which substantially increased the size of the library. 

In November of 2000, voters approved a referendum to increase the tax levy rate for the purpose of constructing a new library.  Construction on the Coal Valley Municipal Center was begun in June of 2002 and completed in the spring of 2003.  Since that time the library and Village of Coal Valley have jointly operated the Municipal Center and shared the operating expenses.

The mission of the Robert R. Jones Public Library is to connect people with information, ideas, and
experiences to provide enjoyment, enrich lives, and strengthen community.

The vision of the Robert R. Jones Public Library is to create opportunities to discover, connect, and
inspire. The Robert R. Jones Public Library will provide access to the universe of information, and especially that information which is of immediate relevance and interest to the community it serves.


The library seeks to accomplish its mission and vision through prudent management and development of its resources and by providing access to materials and services to meet the present and future needs of the community it serves. In this effort, the Robert R. Jones Public Library cooperates with other libraries and with other educational and governmental institutions. Special emphasis is placed on current popular materials. The library serves as a learning center and educational center for all residents of the community.

The Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) is one of two multi-type regional library systems in the state.  The membership of RAILS includes academic, public, school, and special libraries.

RAILS provides delivery service to support Illinois' vast inter-library loan program, technology support for more than 600 libraries' shared online catalogs, and Talking Book Services that serve persons with visual or physical disabilities who cannot read conventional print material.

The RAILS service area covers northern and western Illinois. The system serves more than 1300 private, public, school, and university library members, representing more than 4200 library facilities in a 27,000 square mile area.  Although the city of Chicago is within RAILS' boundaries, and a number of RAILS member libraries are located in Chicago, the Chicago Public Library constitutes a separate library system.

One hundred thirty-two libraries in Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) share an integrated library automation system known as PrairieCat. By sharing the cost of central site equipment, computer and database maintenance staff, and telecommunications, libraries of all sizes (including public, academic, school and special) have found it possible to join the consortium and to realize the advantages of automated resource sharing.

Mission Statement:  PrairieCat engages members in sharing resources effectively and equitably, expanding the quality and quantity of information accessible to our library users.
PrairieCat value statements:

  • Cooperation – We strive to share member resources as effectively and economically as possible.

  • Diversity - We value and respect the contributions of others who have talents and abilities, constraints and opportunities that are different than our own, and strive to provide equal footing for libraries of all types and sizes.

  • Responsiveness – We strive to provide excellent services by focusing on the needs and wants of our customers.

  • Engagement - We value collaborative members with involved, well-trained, competent staff.

  • Access – We strive for an effective, well-maintained catalog supporting strong member collections.

  • Relevance – We support libraries in making a value-added impact in their communities through shared services and innovation.

  • Excellence– We work to sustain a consortium that leverages our size to the benefit of the members, and provides the appropriate resources, leadership and services in pursuit of excellent library service.

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