Philatelic librarians from around the world gather in New York

About 25 people from 7 countries gathered at the Collectors Club in midtown Manhattan on the morning of Monday, May 30. The thing that brought them all together was philatelic libraries.

All were attending World Stamp Show-NY2016 and came to the Collectors Club’s 5-story brownstone for a meeting of the Philatelic Librarians Roundtable. The group included professional librarians, library staff, board members, and volunteers, and individuals with an interest in libraries.

The group was welcomed by Bruce Marsden and Roger Brody, both members of the Collectors Club and presidents, respectively, of the Collectors Club and the American Philatelic Research Library. The club had a special display for the meeting: the original letter book of Robert Morris, postmaster of New York.

I then welcomed the group on behalf of the Philatelic Librarians Roundtable, an informal group of staff, board members, volunteers, and the interested individuals, mostly from North America. The roundtable meets every other month virtually, in person at the American Philatelic Society’s StampShow, and keeps in touch between meetings using an email list. Anyone is welcome to join the email list and the meetings. To be added to the email list, visit or contact me. Most libraries participating in the roundtable are also members of the David Straight Memorial Philatelic Union Catalog hosted by the APRL, which in turn contributes its data to the Global Philatelic Library.

Frank Walton and Steve Jarvis then gave the group a live demo of the new digital Crawford Library, to be officially unveiled at World Stamp Show-NY2016 later in the day. The project, a joint venture of the Global Philatelic Library and the British Library, has digitized the entire Crawford Philatelic Library from the British Library’s microfilm (except for about 20% of the library which was not filmed). All of the digitized material that is out of copyright under British law is now publicly accessible.

Describing the aims of the project, Walton said, “Any philatelic literature is only as good as the people who read it.” The GPL is currently running optical character recognition on the files which will eventually make the collection fully searchable. The digital library, along with the Global Philatelic Library catalog including the holdings of 27 philatelic libraries around the world, can be accessed at

Following the presentation, the group had a lively discussion about cooperation and collaboration around the exchange of duplicates and digitization efforts.

After the meeting, some attendees toured the Collectors Club while others continued to mingle and exchange contact information.