National Library Week: The Philatelic Union Catalog

Philatelic Union Catalog

This is the first in a series of daily posts about how the American Philatelic Research Library serves the philatelic community as we celebrate National Library Week.

Most of the people who use the American Philatelic Research Library do so from a distance, and the primary access point is our online catalog.

The catalog serves as the Philatelic Union Catalog includes several collections of records:

APRL holdings, including books, journals, auction catalogs for name sales, government documents, copies of exhibits, and more. To search these holdings, select APRL from the drop down box at the bottom of the search screen.

What you won’t find in these records: individual journal articles, stamp show programs, price lists, and non-name sale auction catalogs (though we are starting to add records for each auction house with a summary of our holdings). You will find some records for archives and special collections, though these are not yet complete.

The Philatelic Union Catalog, including records from major philatelic libraries in North America, plus the holdings of the Royal Philatelic Society London’s library. The kinds of records included from each library and accessibility vary by collection. For more information, see the list of participating libraries. Though not all of these libraries lend material, many can help with locating difficult to find books and journals, and sometimes it is helpful just to know a book exists. To search the union catalog, select All libraries and indexes from the drop down box at the bottom of the search screen, or select the location code for an individual library.

When searching the union catalog, take note of the location code in each record. If multiple libraries have a book, you will see a record for each library. Keep in mind that not all libraries have contributed records for journals, auction catalogs, and other “non-book” items in their collections.

The philatelic article index includes thousands of records for articles in philatelic journals, magazines, newspapers, and even stamp show programs. The majority of these were contributed by Gene Fricks, and additional records have been added by the Postal History Foundation, APRL staff, and other volunteers. To search for articles, select All libraries and indexes from the drop down box at the bottom of the search screen and type article in the Record Type box.

The article index does not include a location code. To find out if the APRL has the journal issue containing the article, search the catalog for the journal title and look at the detailed information in the full record display. Despite its size, this index is far from comprehensive. Many journals have their own indexes (either print or online) and the Royal Philatelic Society London’s catalog includes additional journal indexes.

APRL Basic Catalog TutorialFor more help on searching the catalog, check out our YouTube video. This is the first in a series – if you have questions about searching the catalog, let me know and they may be the topic for future videos!

As always, if you don’t find what you are looking for, contact us at or 814-933-3803. We can help you search, and tell you about materials not listed in the catalog.