Step 4 - Pack your books so they arrive in great shape
Now that you know which books to send, it's time to pack them up and get them on the way to Africa!
We have lots of experience in knowing how to ship books. Trust us and follow these steps!
- Gather the right supplies.
- Wide packing tape (optional: with tape gun), 2 inches wide
- Heavy duty, large plastic bags (trash compactor bags are ideal.)
- Small-sized cardboard boxes (about 10x13x12 in.) in good condition. (Ask grocery stores and coffee shops for sturdy boxes. USPS will not accept boxes that originally carried wine or liquor, unless you wrap these in brown paper (too much work!).)
- Bold felt-tip permanent markers
- Air packs or other packing material to go in empty spaces in the boxes
- One Book Packing Slip (.pdf, .doc) for each box, and one Summary Worksheet (.pdf, .doc) per project.
- Follow these six steps to pack the books. (Friendly reminder: Don't skip any steps!) ;-)
- Use packing tape to reinforce all seams on the bottom and on the side edge of the box (where the box is glued together).
- Line the bottom of the box with a second layer of cardboard for extra strength.
- Line the box with a clean, dry trash compactor bag. (This protects the books from moisture.)
- Organize the books you have sorted according to size.
- Think of the box as a 3-D jigsaw puzzle and pack as many books as possible into the box. This may take several tries, but a box that is loosely packed may be crushed in transit to Africa. If there is an empty space you cannot fill with books, use air packs, styrofoam peanuts or other packing materials to fill it. Boxes that are overpacked will rip open. Small and medium boxes that weigh under 40 pounds handle and ship the best. The United States Postal Service will not accept Media Mail boxes over 70 pounds.
- Important: We need an accurate total count of books in each box. As you pack the books, count them and write the total on the Book Packing Slip and the Summary Worksheet. (Tip: We like to write the total number of books in each box on the outside of the box and fill out the summary later once we have finished packing them all.)
- Before you close the box, fill out completely one Book Packing Slip (.pdf, .doc) for each box.
- Place this form on top of the books inside the box. Be sure to include your group's name and address so your library knows where the books came from and can contact you.
- If you like, include pictures or letters from your group to your African partners. Some African libraries post these letters, photos and messages in their new libraries to put a personal face on where the books came from.
- Carefully fold the trash compactor bag shut and tuck the edges down the inside edges of the box.
- Close the box securely. Squeeze the box flaps together tightly, then tape all remaining edges to seal the box.
- If the boxes have printing on them (e.g. product information, old labels, etc.) use a magic marker to cross through the writing so there is no confusion about the contents. Note: USPS will not accept wine or alcohol boxes, even if you cross through their marking.
- To create your shipping labels, use the template we attach when we send you mailing instructions.
- Change the return address to reflect your return address. Include your organization's name and your own name--without this information, we will not be able to match the books to your school at the warehouse.
- Print out the labels and securely tape one to the top of each box. Completely cover your label with tape. We've had quite a few boxes not make it to the warehouse because the label has gotten ripped off en route.
- Take your boxes to the Post Office and send them Media Mail. That's the cheapest rate, at about $.50 per pound. Weigh the boxes on a bathroom scale if you want to get an idea of what it will cost.
- When you have mailed all the books, mail or email the Summary Worksheet (.pdf, .doc) to your book drive coordinator.