Packaging Your ILL Items

As stated in the INFO Resource Sharing Network Participation Policies and Standards, packaging and labelling materials are provided by libraries as part of their participation in interlibrary loan. OLS is not involved in any bulk purchase of mailing bags for individual libraries or groups. 

Based on feedback from libraries and Canada Post, here are some typical packaging options:


Padded Envelopes

  • Libraries can purchase bags from library supply vendors (e.g. Brodart, Carr McLean, etc.). Fabric bags are not mandatory for shipping books
  • Many libraries find it more economical to purchase padded envelopes or bags in bulk from discount/dollar stores
  • Other libraries ask staff in other departments to forward any gently used padded envelopes. Library patrons are often happy to recycle gently used padded envelopes or bags they receive at home by dropping them off at the library
  • Libraries are also encouraged to post queries for extra bags to the INFOuser discussion list
  • Remove old labels, extra tape, and old staples
  • Discard torn envelopes, or padded envelopes losing their stuffing


  • Try to distribute the weight in the carton evenly. Center the main weight in the carton and surround with filler. The filler may be foam chips, popcorn, or paper for recycling.
  • If using a large box for a small shipment, adapt the box by slitting the corners down to the top of the contents, then scoring the box vertically on all four sides. Seal by folding all four sides down and tape shut
  • When possible the best method of making sure the shipment stays intact is to encircle the box length and width with 2" wide clear tape
  • Remove all old labels before attaching new mailing labels
  • Canada Post Library Book Rate items cannot exceed 5 kg

Fabric Bags

  • It is our understanding that fabric bags require a more costly manual sort by Canada Post staff than other packaging. From the Library Shipping Tool: "Libraries using fabric bags will need to re-engineer their bags to allow the label to be applied, or phase-out fabric bags and use different containers (jiffy bags, bubble packs or cardboard boxes)
  • In the past, some libraries have purchased fabric bags and shared the cost as a group. In our experience, ensuring that bags are returned to members of a group is difficult, especially if sending a loan to a library outside that group.