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 the Kern County Library does not own. The item is shipped directly to your home via Amazon.

Once you read it, return it to the Library.


Customers may request up to FIVE Zip Books each month. (The Library may order them all at once or one at a time, depending on the titles.) Customers may have out no more than FIVE Zip Books at a time.

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 program for items that are already owned by the library or one of its usual purchases.

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. 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 *eligibility requirements and place the order with Amazon. You will be notified via email when your order will arrive and 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 to ensure it is in good condition. After 90 days has passed, we will send you a gentle reminder. 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 5 times per month.

Questions? Email us!


*Who Can Make Requests & Other Requirements

  • Customers with a Kern County address that do not have more than FIVE Zip Books currently out or already requested that month
  • 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 available from Amazon (ebooks, audiovisual and pre-order titles do not qualify for Zip Books). 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 owned by Kern County Library.
  • Items cannot be a title the library would normally buy (bestsellers, popular authors). If you request an item the library ends up purchasing, we can place you on the request list at the same time.
  • Item cannot be a textbook or study guide unless it is general enough for a public library.
  • The cost of the item must be under $50 pre-tax and currently available on
  • At the librarian’s discretion, additional restrictions may apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use Zip Books?
Fill out the Zip Books request form. (Requests can only be submitted online, and should be filled out by the requester (you). All communication is done via email with you.) The Zip Books Team will verify customer and item eligibility. If your request meets qualifications, the item will be ordered through Amazon and it will be shipped directly to you. You will be notified if your Zip Book order cannot be fulfilled.

When you are finished with your item, simply return it to your local Kern County Library branch in good condition and undamaged, along with the original packaging and gift slip (if any). Do not return it in the book drop or you will not be given credit for the item’s return.[/spoiler]

How long can I keep a Zip Book?
Although you will not be given a due date for the item, we ask that you return the item within 3 months. You may have up to FIVE requests per month or active requests at a time.

If the item is returned damaged, the Library will contact you to make arrangements so that you can continue using the Zip Book program.[/spoiler]

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

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