Frequently Asked Questions

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What is ILDS?
The Illinois Library Delivery Service is a courier service that transports library materials between participating Illinois academic and research libraries to support interlibrary resource sharing in the state of Illinois.

Who does ILDS serve?
ILDS serves CARLI Governing members, the 2 Illinois regional library systems, and Chicago Public Library in order to facilitate the efficient movement of materials among all libraries in Illinois. A complete list of ILDS locations

How do other libraries in Illinois get physical delivery?
The Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) and Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) provide delivery to libraries that do not receive direct ILDS service. The regional library systems primarily serve public, school and special libraries. System delivery service is geographically organized and determines delivery frequency based on the volume of materials shipped. System owned equipment and staff are used to provide delivery. 

What is CARLI?
CARLI is the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois, a consortium with 128 members. CARLI members include state universities, community colleges, private colleges and universities, professional schools, the Illinois State Library, and several research libraries. CARLI membership is voluntary and is open to any Illinois institution of higher education recognized by the Illinois Board of Higher Education that is a member of the ILLINET network. 

Who manages ILDS?
ILDS is managed by CARLI, under a grant from the Illinois State Library. The service is provided by two contracted couriers, currently RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) and Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS). 

Who pays for ILDS?
Funding from the Illinois State Library covers the cost of providing one delivery location to each CARLI Governing member and to each regional library system service center. Funding from the State Library also covers a portion of the cost of the ILDS reusable delivery bags. Libraries will need to pay for office supplies (their computer, printer, paper, and zip ties for bags) needed to support their use of ILDS.

What is the history of ILDS? 
The Intersystems Library Delivery Service served Illinois for over 25 years. Originally, this service provided connecting service between the Illinois library systems’ regional delivery services and direct service to 29 Illinois libraries. On January 2, 2008, ILDS became the Illinois Library Delivery Service. The function of ILDS continued, but was expanded to serve most of the academic library community directly. It was also transformed from a dedicated service provided under contracts to several public universities, to a service provided by a contracted courier. 

How do I stay informed about ILDS?
ILDS libraries receive communications about ILDS from CARLI through email lists that are open to subscription. Any service questions may be sent to the .  

Does ILDS serve Illinois’ public, school and special libraries?
When a public, school or special library lends or borrows materials within the geographic area of a single RAILS or IHLS service center, ILDS does not transport the materials. Materials being routed to fill interlibrary resource sharing requests between RAILS and IHLS, do travel on ILDS and then are transferred into the system’s delivery service to reach their final destination.

How does my library sign up for ILDS?
In order to become an ILDS direct stop, your institution must be a CARLI Governing member. CARLI Affiliate members are also eligible to participate in ILDS but are required to pay the full cost of service.  For information on becoming a CARLI member, contact the . Institutions that want to request new or additional service should also contact the .

How often are ILDS deliveries made?
Each ILDS location receives delivery and pickup service 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, except for announced holidays. The ILDS vehicle visits participating libraries every day—libraries do not call for pickup.

How will ILDS accommodate dates when libraries are closed?
ILDS delivery locations can inform the ILDS program coordinator about planned closure dates when delivery service is not required. Emergency closures may also be reported to the ILDS program coordinator as the situation permits. Contact the ILDS program coordinator by sending email to the , or calling toll-free at 1-866-904-5843.

How long will it take for materials to travel between ILDS locations?
ILDS strives for a 24-hour turnaround time on Mondays-Fridays between any two ILDS locations’ delivery docks. The overall turnaround time for an interlibrary loan transaction is typically longer than 24 hours, as it takes libraries time to retrieve and process the material, and for the material to reach the patron.

What may be sent in ILDS?
ILDS is intended for sending library-owned materials between libraries to fulfill interlibrary resource sharing requests. This can include books and journals, photocopies in envelopes, recordings, maps, audio-visual materials, etc. It is also possible to redirect surplus ILDS bags or to receive additional ILDS bags through the ILDS system.

What may not be sent in ILDS?
ILDS must not be used to send correspondence including library notices (e.g., overdue notices). See CARLI’s best practice statement on mailing notices at

Additionally, ILDS does not transport office supplies, furniture, computer equipment, perishables, correspondence between library staff, or inter-campus mail between branches of an institution. Questions about sending oddly shaped, extremely large, or fragile materials via ILDS to fulfill interlibrary loans may be directed to the ILDS delivery program coordinator by sending email to , or calling toll-free at 1-866-904-5843.

Do we receive delivery at the same time each Monday through Friday?
Yes, service is typically performed within an hour window of the scheduled delivery time, weather and traffic permitting.

Do libraries participating in ILDS also receive library system delivery?
Typically no. However, as each regional library system’s service options may vary, and as there are variations in the organization of academic institutions (e.g., branch campuses, etc.), you should direct questions about specific system delivery service to the relevant library system.

What paperwork needs to accompany each item in the delivery systems?
Per the ILLINET Interlibrary Loan Code, each item traveling in ILDS between two libraries to fill a request should include the appropriate interlibrary lending or reciprocal borrowing paperwork (OCLC, Alma, etc.) Please place the paperwork inside the front cover of the book, etc.

If both the sending and receiving libraries are direct ILDS locations, the request paperwork is all you need to place with the item, since materials traveling between any two ILDS locations are placed in delivery bags only with items going to the same final destination.

In cases where the sending and receiving libraries are not both direct ILDS locations, a routing label must accompany the item. Use the ILDS paper routing label

If the sending and receiving libraries are members of the same regional library system (RAILS or IHLS), the regional system may provide an alternate routing label for use in delivery transactions.

For a detailed overview of which labels should be used in which interlibrary loan scenarios, refer to the Illinois Library Delivery Workflow Chart.

What supplies are provided by ILDS?
ILDS provides reusable shipping bags in various sizes. All other supplies necessary to prepare and ship materials through ILDS, including zip ties, padded envelopes, other containers, press on sleeves to hold labels, rolling carts, and hand trucks are the responsibility of the library.

Does it make a difference which ILDS bag or tote we use?
No. You may also use other containers, such as boxes, or padded mailers as long as there is an ILDS label properly affixed to the outside of the container. Tape can be used to secure the label to the package.

For information on preparing for shipment, see the ILDS Instructions document.

What are the special handling instructions for fragile materials?
Although the ILDS bags offer a measure of protection, fragile or costly items should be packaged with additional care. In the case of A/V materials, secure bubble wrap, or a flat piece of cardboard to the item with a rubber bands. CARLI has provided a small number of padded mailers to protect A/V materials. Reusable AV mailers should NOT be used when sending materials to a non-ILDS direct stop locations. They should remain within the ILDS system. When sending fragile items to non-ILDS direct stop locations, please package in regular padded envelopes with the appropriate routing label securely affixed to the outside.

Care should be used when securing materials with rubber bands, as they can cause flexible items to bend, and leave indentations in softer materials. 

When using boxes to transport materials, please use enough packaging material so that the item or items do not slide around in the box during transport. Also use enough packing tape to secure the box shut so that it does not come open in transit. An ILDS label must be affixed to the outside of the box in order for it to be transported.

If an item has been sent to you in a box or with special packaging, please use the same care when returning it to the loaning institution. Some simple packing techniques will help to ensure that all loaned materials travel safely and return home in good condition.

How can libraries receive a supply of ILDS bags?
ILDS bags and other supplies should be requested by sending an email to the ILDS-ig listserv. The listserv was established to give ILDS participants a forum to communicate with each other, while at the same time providing a mechanism for the distribution of supplies. You must subscribe to the listserv before posting a message to it. Subscribe to the ILDS-ig listerv.

An example of an appropriate email subject line for supplies is “ISU – Illinois State University requests 25 small bags”. After your request has been filled by someone monitoring the list, you should send an email back to the list so that your colleagues know that the request has been filled. If you are monitoring the listserv, please be generous with your colleagues if you have supplies to share.

How do I label a bag of supplies that I am sending through ILDS?
When creating an ILDS label using the online label system, you are given the option to check a box that states, This bag contains only delivery bags. By checking this box when sending a bag of supplies through ILDS, you are ensuring that statistics are not impacted.

For more information, see the ILDS Instructions document.

How should ILDS bags be secured?
In order to prevent the bags from coming open in transport, zip ties should be used to secure the zipper-top bags. The use of zip ties will be a factor in any claims made for lost material.

For more information, see the ILDS Instructions document.

Can libraries that currently receive system library delivery service use system supplied totes or bags to ship through ILDS?
No. System-supplied shipping materials must remain within that system. 

Similarly, ILDS bags, totes, or other materials should not be used for intra-system delivery purposes.

Does each item need to be separately bagged?
No. Items going to a single ILDS destination may/should be packed into the same bag, as space permits.

What if an item is too large for an ILDS bag?
There is a 40 pound weight limit per container.  Use a container appropriately sized for the material being sent, e.g., maps in tubes. The ultimate goal of physical delivery is to move materials as safely as possible. Pack materials securely in an appropriate container with an ILDS routing label securely attached. Contact the ILDS program coordinator when in doubt about shipping large or oddly shaped items via ILDS.

What supplies does the library need to provide?
ILDS libraries are responsible for providing a computer with a web connection and web browser, a printer, a supply of plain 8.5 x 11" paper for printing labels and manifests, and zip ties for securing the closure of drawstring and zipper-top bags. The library will, of course, need to allocate the staff time required to bag and label materials. The bag labels will be printed six to an 8.5 x 11" page. Libraries may wish to purchase 8.5 x 11" paper that is perforated into six 3 2/3 x 4 ½” segments, or simply cut the labels apart with scissors or a paper cutter after printing.

Are there any special computer requirements?
CARLI has tested the web label system on both Windows and Mac computers, and on Internet Explorer, and Firefox browsers. Other browsers may work, but have not been tested.

What about computer software?
You need a web browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft edge, etc.). You need to make sure your browser is set to support cookies, JavaScript, and that it allows pop-ups from the ILDS website. You will also need Adobe Reader (or another PDF viewer program such as Preview for Macs.)

Can labels be printed directly on small, label-sized sheets if our printer can accommodate it? What about using a receipt printer (with a continuous role of paper)?
These formats are not supported at this time.

How are bags labeled?
Detailed instructions and training materials on the ILDS labeling process are available in the ILDS Instructions document.

How are the labels attached to the bags?
The zipper-top bags and plastic totes have an attached window sleeve in which the label should be inserted. Remember, each bag must have a new label every time it is used.

What is a shipping manifest?
The shipping manifest is a summary of the library’s daily outgoing shipment that lists the number of outgoing bags, and their destinations. Detailed instructions for creating manifests from the web-based label system are available in the ILDS Instructions document.

Do libraries need to indicate which specific items (titles, barcodes, etc.) were placed in each bag?
No. ILDS will not track which items were packed in which bag. If a library wishes to record this information for their own files, that is fine.

Should every item libraries send to other libraries have a permanent property label on it?
Yes. The ownership information stamped or otherwise permanently labeled on the item should include the full name of your institution and ideally the library’s complete address. The more common your institution name, the more important it is to use the full name and address (think how many names have “Illinois” or “Lincoln” in them.) This may be the only way an item can get back to the owning library if it gets separated from its request paperwork. 

I-Share libraries lending materials through its Universal Borrowing (UB) component are also required to have a barcode on the item so that it can be properly routed out and in through Universal Borrowing.

Will the ILDS delivery arrive the same time every day?
Yes, service is typically performed within an hour window of the scheduled delivery time, weather and traffic permitting.

Does library staff have to do anything on the ILDS website when a shipment is received?

What’s the best way to find out more about ILDS?
Information about ILDS is posted at Two email lists have been established for ILDS communication, and the distribution of ILDS supplies. The ILDS email list ( is a moderated email list that is used by CARLI to send out information pertaining to the ILDS program. The ILDS-ig email list ( is an open email list that has been established for ILDS participants to communicate with each other, as well as for the distribution of ILDS supplies. Subscribe to either email list.

Is ILDS training available?
Instructional material is available from the Documentation tab. Training is also available upon request by sending an email to the .

I clicked on “Print” but don’t see my label or manifest file…
You may have pop-ups blocked in your web browser. Try clicking Print again and look at the browser toolbar at the top of the screen. If you see a warning message saying pop ups are being blocked, click on that warning message and select the option to allow pop ups from the ILDS website.

I can’t connect to the web label system and need to label my shipment…
Use a copy of the paper backup label templates.

Create a manifest summarizing your shipment by using the backup manifest template provided (as a PDF) or (in Excel). Detailed instructions on the use of the backup labels and manifest are available in the ILDS Instruction document.

I printed my labels, but they have an error or somehow got damaged and are unusable (I’ve not yet approved my manifest)…
Recycle/discard any erroneous or unusable labels and reprint the labels.  Since you have not approved your manifest, the labels are still available for you to reprint. Reprinting labels will not impact your statistics.

I approved my manifest, but then realized I forgot to print labels, or the labels got damaged and are unusable…
Recycle or discard the manifest if you have printed it. Start over again creating labels and be sure to print them. Then review and approve the new manifest.  Remember to delete the manifest that you originally created by selecting it from the dropdown menu on the manifest page, and clicking on “Delete”. When you delete the manifest, all of the labels associated with it will also be deleted.

I’ve printed labels and the manifest, but then find one more bag to be shipped…
Create labels for any additional bags and print them. Review and approve the second manifest. Note that manifests are not cumulative–the second manifest does not include the bags that were already summarized in the manifest you created earlier.

We received a bag that appears to be properly labeled for a different ILDS destination…
Using the same bag label, place the bag with your next day’s outgoing ILDS shipment.  The bag will be shipped to the intended destination.

We received a bag or an item labeled for our library that we did not request…
Contact the owning library and determine with them if you should send the item on to its intended destination or return it to the owning library.

We received a bag that is broken/damaged (broken zipper, coming unstitched, torn, etc). What should I do with it?
Use your best judgement on damaged delivery bags.  If the zipper on the bag no longer works, or the bag is so damaged (torn, etc.) that it will not hold items safely, please discard the bag.

For all of the situations listed below and any other problem situation not covered here, simply contact CARLI’s ILDS program coordinator at the  or 1-866-904-5843.

  • I’m new to delivery and need to know how to get started.
  • We have a new ILDS contact person.
  • We are unexpectedly closed due to weather or other situations.
  • We are planning to be closed for a holiday break, remodeling, etc.
  • Our delivery office or entire library is moving.
  • Our institution is changing its name, merging with another, etc.
  • I have a complaint, compliment, or suggestion to make.

Statistics are available on the ILDS web site. Follow these detailed instructions to obtain statistics for your institution.