Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library

The Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library in North Long Beach.

Since 1896, readers have been borrowing books from the Long Beach Public Library.

Over the years, the library has grown to include 12 different sites and each one is filled with texts. Although the library’s cumulative selection of volumes is impressive, there are countless titles that the system does not own.

For example, "Webs of Perception," written by Long Beach author Darlene Quinn, has not yet made it to the Long Beach library shelves. The same goes for Wendy Hornsby’s "Bouquet of Rue" and Margaret Meloni’s "Carpooling with Death."

If a book is not part of the city’s collection, a patron can request an interlibrary loan (ILL). An ILL allows a reader to borrow a title from another city’s library, but it may take several weeks for the requested text to reach the reader’s hands.

Now a new loan service, Zip Books, gives Long Beach readers an expedited way to borrow off-site books. Zip Books cuts delivery time from weeks to days, without any cost to the patron.

Zip Books is a statewide project of the NorthNet Library System and Califa Group. This loan service is paid for by the California State Library. Long Beach is one of 69 library locations participating across California.

The borrowing process is easy and free. Zip Books request forms can be found online at www.longbeach.gov/library/borrow/need-something-else/ and used by any library patron in good standing. People must provide phone, email, address and library card barcode information, along with the book’s author and title. Completed Zip Books request forms can be emailed to LBPL_Reference@lbpl.org or handed to an on-site library staff member.

People can request to borrow a book, a large print book, or a book on CD. However, DVDs and music CDs do not fall within the Zip Books service. A book is not Zip eligible if it is a best seller or if the title is already owned by the Long Beach library. Additionally, the book must be available on Amazon and cost less than $50. If an item meets all of these criteria, a staff member will place an order and have the text sent directly to the patron’s home.

Ordering is done through the library's Amazon account, not the patron’s personal account. Delivery dates will vary, but Amazon Prime items often arrive within a day or two.

Patrons should note that Zip Books cannot be returned through the regular book drop. Zip Books must be handed directly to a staff member at a Long Beach library location during library open hours. It then becomes part of the Long Beach collection.

According to Mara Pearce, Long Beach Public Library Senior Librarian of Access Services, patrons can only have one Zip book out at a time but they can make up to five Zip requests a month.

“We love it, and hope all patrons do, too,” Pearce said. “This program gives us the opportunity to fill holes in our collection and meet patrons’ specific requests.”

For more information on Zip Books, visit your nearest LBPL location or go online to www.longbeach.gov/library.

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