Mission Statement

Arrowhead Library System enhances the value of all types of libraries to their communities by cultivating collaboration, technological innovation, and professional development; and enriches the quality of life by providing direct services for those without a public library and access to electronic resources for all people in northeastern Minnesota.

View the ALS Strategic Plan

Vision Statement

The Future of our Library Community

School and academic libraries are valued by their students, faculty, and administrators. Staff in these libraries have the professional skills to help students perform well academically, develop critical thinking skills, and grow into lifelong learners. Through membership in the regional system, special libraries help extend the reach of their sponsoring organizations. They share information and expertise about specialized topics with the wider community.

The region’s public libraries are strong and vital hubs in their communities, and a source of great civic pride. People of all ages, locations, and socio-economic backgrounds actively make use of public library services. Public libraries are in tune with changing needs in their communities and respond with services and programming that consistently satisfy and delight the people who use them.

The region is abuzz about libraries.

--Approved by the ALS Board on February 14, 2013.


We believe in

The worth and appreciation of diverse points of view

Each individual’s right to free and equal access to information and ideas

The value of individuals, community, and culture

The importance of innovation in meeting evolving customer needs and expectations

Accountability for the public’s resources

--Approved by the ALS Board on June 13, 2019.


The Arrowhead Library System traces its roots to the Arrowhead Area Library Study Committee formed in 1964. This group, which involved 61 people over a two year period, was directly responsible for the formation of the System in 1965. Carlton, Koochiching, and St. Louis Counties were the first members, followed by Itasca County in 1966, Cook in 1967, Lake of the Woods in 1968, and Lake in 1974. William R. Gordon was the first Director, followed by Kenneth R. Nielsen in 1977, and Jim Weikum in 1992.

Original services offered by the new Arrowhead Library System included reciprocal borrowing, library consultant service, interlibrary loan and centralized registration of borrowers. In 1967 bookmobile service was initiated and in 1972 books by mail began. A print shop was founded in 1975. Today a wide variety of services is offered, including delivery van service, video/audio formats, online newspaper and magazine databases, downloadable audiobooks and e-books, and a regional online catalog.