This guest post was written by Scott Tiffney, APRL Reference Assistant.
While I was attending SANDICAL on behalf of the APS back in February, Bill O’Connor afforded me the opportunity of visiting the San Diego County Philatelic Library at its new location in Poway, CA. The SDCPL had its genesis in 1923 but its actual appearance came in the late 1970’s through the revenues of the annual SANDICAL show and under the leadership of the newly formed San Diego Philatelic Council. The SDCPL has grown over the years to include an extensive collection of over 7,000 books, catalogs, monographs, journals, and other ancillary items. Staffed part-time six days a week by volunteers from area stamp clubs with Don Hager as the current Librarian, the SDCPL is believed to be the only philatelic library open to the general public and members in Southern California. While Don and the other volunteers are still in the process of acclimating the collection to its new location, the library’s catalog can currently be accessed via a .pdf file on its website: SDCPL Catalog.
One very unique and inspiring aspect of SDCPL’s history occurred fairly recently and was articulated by Bill O’Connor at the annual SANDICAL awards banquet in February. It concerns a new SANDICAL award, the Ralph M. Armington Memorial Award. Ralph M. Armington was a long time volunteer with the SDPCL. He was a retired Navy Chief and lived in San Diego in his retirement. Ralph was never married, and had no close family members. Over the years he volunteered tirelessly at the last three locations of the SDCPL. He did not drive, but was able to manage a very difficult bus schedule, often taking up to two hours to make his weekly shifts at the library. Upon his untimely death a short time ago, very little was known of his personal life outside of his volunteering at the SDCPL. Ralph died alone but left the largest portion of his estate to the SDCPL and a smaller portion to a San Diego area Children’s Hospital. His generous donation will enable the SDCPL to continue its mission of providing not only a place where the general public and members can meet and conduct research, but his gift will also enhance the stamp collecting hobby in Southern California for years to come.