Zip Books, a free alternative to ILL

The Kern County Library is pleased to announce Zip Books, a FREE alternative to ILL (Interlibrary Loan).

What is Zip Books? Thanks to funding provided by the California State Library, Zip Books is a FREE SERVICE for customers to request books that no SJVLS Library owns or is not requestable from another SJVLS library. The item is shipped directly to your home using Amazon Prime. Once you read it, return it to the Library. Read-Return-Repeat!

Customers may have 1 *active Zip Book at a time. Additional requests can be considered upon return. You may repeat up to 3 times per month. 3 Zip Books allowed per month after their previous request has been returned undamaged to the Kern County Library.

*active = in request queue or out.

How It Works

Step 1: Check the Kern County Library’s catalog to see if the item you are looking for is available  for request. We are unable to use the Zip Book process for items that are already available in the SJVLS catalog and requestable from any branch.

Step 2: Fill out the Zip Books Request Form and be sure to provide a valid email address. All communication regarding the Zip Book will be done via email. Your email address will be verified upon submission of the form. If a valid email address is not provided, the process will not be complete.

Step 3: Kern County Library staff will verify that the request meets requirements and place the order with Amazon. Staff will then email you to let you know what day to expect delivery from Amazon or let you know if the title is not available. You will be instructed via email on how to return your Zip Book to the Library.

Step 4: The book will be sent directly from Amazon, at no charge to you. Please keep all packaging and paperwork (if any) that is received with the book; you will need these when returning the book to the Library.

Step 5: Keep the item as long as you want! We recommend returning the item within 3 months so you don’t forget. When you are finished, return the item with the accompanying Amazon packaging and paperwork to a staff member at your specified branch during library open hours. Please inform staff that you are returning a Zip Book. Items returned in the book drop may not be identified as Zip Books and you will not be able to request another.

Step 6: Repeat up to 3 times per month.

Questions? Email us!

Who Can Make Requests & Other Requirements

  • Customers that do not have a Zip Book already out
  • Customers with Kern County Library cards in good standing (not owing more than $5)
  • Must have a valid email address (all communication will occur electronically via email)
  • Item must be a physical book, not digital or audiovisual materials. Since these items are to be considered for addition to the library catalog upon return, some formats may not be appropriate (pop-up, fold-out, spiral bound, etc.).
  • Items must not be available in the SJVLS catalog.
  • Items cannot be a title the library would normally buy (bestsellers, popular authors)
  • Item cannot be a textbook for school
  • The cost of the item must be under $35, including taxes / other fees, and currently available for Amazon Prime
  • At the librarian’s discretion, additional restrictions may apply
Zip Book Request Form

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use Zip Books?
How long can I keep a Zip Book?

Zip Books project is administered by NorthNet Library System, and is supported with California Library Services Act (CLSA) funds. 

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