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Transportation of Special Collections Materials: Packing & Preparing Materials


Special collections materials must be properly packed according to the following standards and protocols. Proper packing must not be compromised for any reason.


  • Bound materials without protective enclosures (boxes) should be wrapped in tissue or paper and then wrapped with plastic bubble wrap to prevent damage (dents, water damage, or rough handling). This is especially true for materials that are fragile and/or damaged/deteriorated (materials routed to Preservation).
  • Any packing tape should be affixed to the bubble wrap only so it does not stick to the collection items.
  • Books should be packed spine down, side by side, with filler material like crumbled paper or rolled bubble wrap in the empty spaces to prevent tipping and shifting of the books.
  • Oversized books should be packed flat.
  • When packing an object, remember it has inherent strength and pack it accordingly. Objects should be shipped in the position in which they are sturdiest.
    • For example, paintings ship upright on their edge, but artwork on paper should ship flat.
    • The NEDCC web site has detailed instructions for packing audiovisual materials and paper artifacts.
  • Archival materials should be housed in folders and placed in a box.
    • Consider placing that box inside a second box for shipment.

Use sturdy shipping boxes. Special collections must be protected from the elements by bins or other appropriate housing.

  • If you are using a shipping vendor and need to provide shipping boxes, they should be solid enough to protect their contents and free of dents and deformations.
  • Consider using double boxes—an inner box and an outer box—to protect collections. 
  • Consider lining shipping with a large, clean, heavy-duty plastic trash bag to prevent moisture and water seeping into totes.
    • The bag should be sealed (taped or tied) after the collection items are packed. This is an important measure to take when collections must be shipped in inclement weather.

Library Collection Services (LCS) owns several styles of containers (often referred to as crates, bins, or totes) that can be used to transport library materials when LCS is used.

All containers must be sealed using a numbered zip tie. If you need numbered zip ties, you can request them from LCS by sending them an email.

All containers must be labeled on the outside with destination/location code and an individual's attention (e.g. PR 344 ATTN: Tara Kennedy From: MSSA). Please use label templates provided in the Documents section on our Home Page.

Oversized and folio-sized materials:

  • Use shipping containers or totes that will accommodate larger materials, if possible.
    • For LCS shipments, the totes with the “PR” barcode fit most oversized and folio book materials (up to 12.25” W or 16.25” L in size) - NOTE: this is the maximum size that LSF will accept for book materials due to transportation limitations.
    • Example: oversized book in tote
  • Use portfolios (PT barcode) and flatbeds (F barcode) to transport anything larger than the above referenced dimensions.
    • Pack portfolios so that they are able to be tipped, tilted, and shipped vertically whenever possible; use sufficient padding to prevent movement of the object inside of the portfolio.
    • Position and place the collection materials appropriately (toward the bottom of the case) to make them easier to move using the handles and to keep from tipping.
  • Use padding (e.g. newsprint, bubble wrap, foam) in spaces inside the tote to prevent items from moving or shifting.

Born-digital media (Hard drives, CDs, DVDs, flash drives, and floppy, ZIP and JAZ disks):

For fragile or unusual objects, contact the Preservation Department’s Preservation Services or Conservation & Exhibition Services for advice and assistance.

Security Measures:

Ideally no package or container with special collections or any University property should leave the sending units without verification of its contents.  For all non-internal Library transfers of special collections, units should have a checks and balances procedure in place where more than one person verifies what is included in a package or shipping container before it is sealed. Such a procedure must be in place and followed for the shipment of any approved non-Library campus or external vendors.

Individual Library units and special collections may have additional requirements for security measures that must be incorporated in the packing and shipping process.  For assistance in instituting or evaluating a checks and balances protocol, contact Lynn Ieronimo, Director of Library Security.