San Francisco Public Library

Books by Mail

This free service is offered to any resident of San Francisco whose use of the Library's facilities and resources is affected by permanent or long-term disability.

Residents should first complete an application for services for residents of San Francisco who are homebound (PDF 37K) to receive your library card by mail and indicate interest in Books by Mail.

Who is eligible for the Books By Mail program?

San Francisco residents who have a medically documented, permanent or long-term disability that prevents them from coming into the Library to use its facilities and resources are eligible to have library materials mailed to them.

What can I borrow?

We will mail you any circulating book, video, cassette, magazine, CD or DVD owned by SFPL that is available. You may request a specific title, author or subject. If you prefer, we can select titles based on your Patron Reading, Viewing and Listening Interests form (PDF 68K).

For how long can I borrow materials?

We will check everything out to you on your SFPL card for 4 weeks, which includes extra time for delivery from the Library to you and then from you back to the Library. If you need more time, you must call 415 557-4253 to renew the materials.

How many items can I borrow at one time?

We will send you as many of your requests that fit into a large, reusable canvas mailbag. When you return that batch of titles in the canvas mailbag, we will send you another.

Can I reserve titles that are not available right now?

If a title you request is part of the SFPL circulating collection but is currently not available, we will reserve it for you and send it to you in a future delivery. If you request, we can send other materials by the same author or on the same subject.

How will I receive and return what I borrow?

Everything will be sent via the US Postal Service to your home address in reusable canvas mailbags, with a pre-addressed and pre-paid return mailing card enclosed each time. When you are ready to return all the materials to the Library, leave the mailbag with your mail carrier or have someone take it for you to a post office. Mailbags may also be returned to any SFPL branch during open hours or -- if they fit -- deposited in book drops during closed hours.

What happens if I am late returning material or lose something?

If you keep material beyond the due date, you are responsible for paying late fines. You are also responsible for replacing or paying for lost or damaged material.

How do I register for Books by Mail?

Print and complete an application (PDF 37K) or contact Friends for Life:

We will mail you an application and Patron Interests form. Fill the forms out and return them to the Library. Your application will be evaluated and you will be notified of the result.

What else must I know about Books by Mail?

If your library card has any outstanding fines still due, you must pay them before we can start this service. If you need to clear your account, you may: