How to safely return materials to Harvard Library


If you have one or two small or medium size books, you may be able to ship items using a padded envelope:

  •  Envelope must be in good condition: clean, no tears or holes.
  •  Envelope must fully enclose the books. Do not try to force a book into an envelope that is too small.
  • If a padded envelope is not available, wrap the books with a cushioning material (bubble wrap, etc.) or place the volumes between two pieces of cardboard prior to placing in a regular large envelope.
  • See image below for a book in a padded envelope:

Padded Envelope


If you have larger quantities of books or large books, they must be packed in a box.

  • Boxes must be sturdy and in good condition: clean, no holes, and able to fully contain the books.
  • Pack boxes to no more than 25 pounds. (You can estimate each book as weighing approximately 1 to 1.25 lbs.)
  • Distribute the weight evenly and use clean, dry packing material in the box to cushion the books and to prevent them from shifting during transport. o Packing material may include clean scrap paper, bubble wrap, or other cushioning material.
  • Pack books in the box either spine down or flat (spine to spine). See images below.
  • Make sure that the box is fully closed and securely taped shut before bringing to the post office.


Books packed flat in box (SPINE to SPINE)

Books packed spine to spine

Books packed with the spine edge down towards the bottom of the box (SPINE DOWN)

Books packed in box spine down