The Small and Moderate Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS)* consists of four telescopes atop Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO): the 0.9m, 1.0m, 1.3m, and 1.5m. A consortium of twelve institutions and universities began funding operations in February 2003. Time allocation for these facilities is as
follows: ~65% to consortium members, ~25% to the general community, and 10% to Chilean researchers. Thus, resources remain available to the community while providing a unique opportunity for consortium members; the possibility of high temporal cadence monitoring coupled with long time baseline monitoring. Indeed, a number of member programs have benefited from such a schema. Furthermore, two of the four telescopes are scheduled in a queue mode in which observations are collected by service observers. Queue mode investigators
have access to spectroscopic observations (both RC and echelle) as well as direct imaging (both optical and near-IR simultaneously). Of the remaining two telescopes, the 1.0m is almost exclusively operated in user mode and contains a 20'×20' FOV optical imager, and the 0.9m is operated both in user and service mode in equal allotments and also has a dedicated optical imager. The latter facilities are frequently used for hands-on student training under the superb sky conditions afforded at CTIO.
Currently, three of the partner universities are responsible for managing telescope scheduling and data handling, while one additional university is responsible for some of the instruments. In return, these universities receive additional telescope time. Operations are largely run by a handful of people, with six personnel from the four support universities and seven dedicated personnel in Chile (five observers, one observer support engineer,
and one postdoctoral appointee). Thus far, this model has proven to be both an efficient and an effective method for operating the small telescopes at CTIO.