What We Do

Our Mission

MCFLS provides collaborative leadership, advocacy, and support for high-quality resources and services to empower the capabilities and capacities of member libraries to deliver responsive and innovative library services to all residents of Milwaukee County.

Our Vision

MCFLS and member libraries envision themselves as indispensable resources and vital partners providing access to a coordinated network of information, exceptional library experiences, and life-inspiring opportunities.


MCFLS is primarily funded by the State of Wisconsin, overseen by the Department of Public Instruction, and administered by a seven-member Board of Trustees.  It functions as a membership organization - with its membership made up of the 15 administratively autonomous and fiscally independent public libraries in Milwaukee County. These public libraries join the MCFLS organization voluntarily and renew their memberships periodically by signing a membership agreement.


How We Support Libraries in Milwaukee County (printable version)


MCFLS operates and administers the CountyCat shared automation system. CountyCat makes the resources of 18 public library municipalities in Milwaukee County readily available to all County residents. At a conservative estimate of $20 per item, (averaging in the price of everything from paperbacks to videos) this direct traffic represents $130 million in value to patrons for this service alone because they can check out materials instead of purchasing them.

MCFLS allocates significant monies from the MCFLS operating budget as compensation to net lenders for serving residents of other municipalities within the MCFLS system.

In 2017, MCFLS member libraries successfully provided an estimated 860,000 books and other materials citizens had reserved but which their local libraries did not own or have available at the time of the reserve.

Other Popular CountyCat Services – MCFLS administers and maintains a mobile version of the catalog called "CountyCat Mobile" which currently averages 1 million searches per month. MCFLS also provides Telephone Notification System (TNS) and E-Mail notification for members, which notify customers by telephone and/or email when the material they requested is available to be picked up. TNS and email notification saved member libraries an additional $367,000 in postage last year.

MCFLS funds a Resource Library Agreement with the System Resource Library, Milwaukee Public Library (MPL). This agreement provides full backup reference and backup information services to the system's member libraries and their patrons, including access to the Resource Library's specialized collections. MCFLS also funds an Interlibrary Services contract with MPL for those materials not found in CountyCat, but owned by other libraries in the State of Wisconsin. The item is loaned from the outside library, delivered to a MCFLS member library, and ultimately circulated to the user who requested the materials.

Delivery is essential to resource sharing, and MCFLS provides for the delivery of materials for Milwaukee County area residents to their local libraries and, when they have finished with these materials, returns them to their home libraries. Last year, MCFLS-provided delivery services carried 6 million items among public libraries within Milwaukee County.

MCFLS funds a delivery contract with Action Logistics LLC. Turnaround time for most items is 24 hours. An additional contract with the Wisconsin Libraries’ Delivery Network allows for the movement of requested materials to and from any library in the State of Wisconsin.

If each library were to catalog its own material, the cost to each member would increase for extra staff and/or individual access to a bibliographic supplier of records. Centralized cataloging (using highly trained staff) has the dual benefits of economies of scale and streamlined administration. MCFLS contracts with MPL to supply this service for all members, ensuring high quality and consistent access to the millions of items which MCFLS Member libraries own.

MCFLS employs a highly qualified Network Administrator/PC Support Specialist to administer the MCFLS Wide Area Network and provide PC support. MCFLS offers Help Desk Staff support and 24/7 Hardware Support. MCFLS pays for all central site hardware costs, central site networking equipment, firewall hardware and software (to protect the database and network from unauthorized users), local router and hub hardware and software, and outside consultant support as necessitated by large-scale projects such as an upgrade to wireless technology.

PC Support. MCFLS provides day-to-day prompt and effective computer support services.  MCFLS computer services are priced at a very low labor rate, saving libraries a substantial amount of money that would have been spent on third-party vendors. MCFLS also helps broker computer-related hardware and software to members at significant cost savings.

MCFLS technology staff have frequently been hired by member libraries as the primary project consultant for major technology upgrades, even assisting in (from start to finish) the complex transition into new library buildings. MCFLS technology staff are focused solely on serving member libraries and are totally aware of the technological environment of members.

The MCFLS Director and staff provide annual assistance in the filling out of Wisconsin Public Library State Annual Reports. The Director also serves on various statewide library committees and is a liaison between the State and MCFLS libraries in legislative and other statewide matters such as Technology Advisory, Statewide Resource Sharing, and the Federal Library Grant Advisory Committee.

MCFLS has been able to lower the cost for system members on valuable subscription databases by securing “best-price” consortium pricing which lowers significantly the cost for each individual community, allowing even the smallest community to afford these resources for their citizens. MCFLS also helps manage and promote the popular OverDrive service which provides digital eBook and eAudiobook titles to patrons. In 2017, Milwaukee County residents checked out 482,000 eBook and eAudiobook titles, continuing a decades long pattern of growth.

MCFLS annually provides a number of continuing education opportunities for member libraries. MCFLS works together with the Bridges Library System in planning the programs, thus increasing continuing education possibilities in the immediate area. The programs are arranged via contract with the Southeastern Wisconsin (SEWI) group of library systems. We have been able to offer both nationally prominent speakers and local experts.

MCFLS applies for and administers federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants on behalf of its member libraries. In recent years, LSTA grant funds have provided additional central server hardware, staff training, database purchases, and software products related to CountyCat. A 2009 jobs grant provided training for the public to aid in the job seeking process. Areas covered were development of job resumes and cover letters, self assessment of job skills/interests, and knowledge of training and job-related resources/agencies in the community.


Milwaukee Bucks Reading Challenge


The Milwaukee Bucks, The Northwestern Mutual Foundation and the Milwaukee County Federated Library System partner each spring to execute the "Milwaukee Bucks Library Reading Challenge". The reading challenge is open to all Wisconsin young-adults in the 3rd - 10th grades. The purpose of the reading program is to promote literacy and library usage by youth in Milwaukee and statewide communities ... "The more you read, the more you win!" With each page read, the students score points. When a predetermined number of points are achieved, students become eligible to receive a variety of prizes, including Bucks game tickets and a chance to win a Bucks autographed basketball.  For more information on the Milwaukee Bucks Reading Challenge, contact a participating local library or call (414) 286-3520.

Report On The Economic Contribution Of Wisconsin Public Libraries To The Economy Of Wisconsin

Wisconsin public libraries contribute to the Wisconsin economy and are of growing importance to the citizens of the state. The total economic contribution of Wisconsin public libraries to the Wisconsin economy is 753,699,545. The return on investment in library services is $4.06 for each dollar of taxpayer investment.

Read More ...    Executive Summary  | Full Report 


Technology Plan

The Wisconsin statutes (43.24, 2m) address the requirement that all of the state's regional library systems assist their member libraries in the area of library technology and resource sharing.  In addition, all library systems are required to have a Library System Technology Plan that has been approved by the State Library Division.

View the most current MCFLS Technology Plan


Brown Deer Public Library
Cudahy Family Library
Franklin Public Library
Greendale Public Library
Greenfield Public Library
Hales Corners Library
Milwaukee Public Library
North Shore Library
Oak Creek Public Library
St. Francis Public Library
Shorewood Public Library
South Milwaukee Public Library
Wauwatosa Public Library
West Allis Public Library
Whitefish Bay Public Library

Click here for an interactive map of all member libraries.