The mission of the Heartland Library Cooperative is to provide to the citizens of the member-county service area with enhanced access to library materials and library services which would otherwise be unavailable under current and anticipated funding. This cooperative venture will expand the quality and quantity of library materials to local residents by providing greater access to regional collections through shared technology, shared resources and cooperative collection development.

The Heartland Library Cooperative currently consists of five independent member county library systems: DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, and Okeechobee Counties. These libraries share geographic, economic, and social bonds. The region is largely rural-agricultural and has little in common with contiguous urban counties. Member residents are required to travel considerable distance for access to major population and urban areas. All of the member libraries have found it difficult under the current independent system to provide all of their patrons’ needs, hence the need for this cooperative.

These counties have entered into an interlocal agreement that specifies the governance of this regional library system and the relationship of the partners. Each county operates its library using funds from their local county commission, as well as a state aid grant from the State of Florida. A cooperative library grant will allow citizens from the four counties to access more fully the resources of the region and to enable each participating county to more completely serve the needs of its patrons.

The cooperative long range plan has been developed by the library directors of the participating library systems in coordination with their local county governing boards and has been adopted by the governing board of the multi-county cooperative as required by all interlocal agreements. The plan provides a natural complement and supplement to the individual long range plans of the participants.