In 1995, the North Suburban Library System (NSLS) launched NorthStarNet (www.northstarnet.org), an online community information network. The electronic community was created as an entry point to the Internet for libraries and for organizations in the communities they serve. This resource for sharing information across physical and electronic borders has grown from four public libraries to 50 libraries supporting over 900 local information providers serving close to 100 communities.
NorthStarNet has created a home for libraries to build online community between libraries, between libraries and the communities they serve, and between community members themselves.
NorthStarNet’s participating libraries dialogue with each other through online forums, which provide a platform for the sharing of everything from technology information to insights on expanding the reach of NorthStarNet into communities. (http://forums.northstarnet.org/)
NSLS has celebrated the 10th anniversary of NorthStarNet with the introduction of a number of new services to enhance the online community experience for libraries and community members. Many libraries are using NorthStarNet blogs to post announcements of current community information. Example: Elk Grove Village Public Library: http://blogs.northstarnet.org/egvpl/
NorthStarNet offers community members Online Cafés (aka Communities of Practice), where people with shared interests can come together virtually to share information. This platform can create community dialog where there might not otherwise be any. This is still in the formation stage for a number of community groups.
Libraries, local government offices and community organizations have come together to share information by entering their events into a shared community calendar. This has proven to be a great planning tool for communities, helping alleviate event overlap. Of course, it is a great resource for people in any community looking for something to do in their immediate area or regionally. Local community calendar information is also loaded into a full NorthStarNet calendar. Participating community organizations can use the online form and enter their own event information to the calendar. Example: Arlington Heights Memorial Library: http://calendar.northstarnet.org/calview.asp?comm_id=AHK&View=Month.