As National Library Week draws to a close with its message of “Libraries Lead”, we look at the global reach of the APRL for collectors and researchers from around the world. Much of the research and reference work done on a daily basis at the APRL is often performed for remote users and patrons, some here in the U.S., others internationally. In the age of the internet, email and social media, the ability to share and access the resources of the APRL has now become worldwide. Researchers regularly contact the library remotely for their research needs.
As today marks the penultimate day of National Library Week we explore the relationship between philatelic authors and the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL). Libraries like the APRL take the lead in assisting writers in the world of philatelic research and journalism to the many different types of resources and references that they need for their columns and articles. Some authors want to discover what previous research has been done on a particular stamp or philatelic item, while other writers look to the resources of the APRL for a very specific reference or fact.
One of the real strengths of the collection here at the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) is the breadth and scope of the resources that are available for not only the general collector but also the highly specialized philatelist. As we celebrate National Library Week and this year’s motto of “Libraries Lead” we are reminded of how the APRL leads specialized collectors and researchers to the resources they use in their collections and research.
One of the lesser known assets within the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) is one of the largest collections of worldwide philatelic auction catalogs and names sales. Researchers often consult auction catalogs to identify certain philatelic items as to their value over time or to see items that, if it were not for philatelic auctions, might not have been previously available for public viewing. Auction catalogs provide a history to the commerce of the philatelic world for both the hobbyist and the serious philatelist.
Yesterday as part of National Library Week and this year’s motto “Libraries Lead” we recognized the important role that the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) plays in assisting a philatelic exhibit judge. Today we look a little further at this unique relationship of the APRL and exhibiting from the perspective of another distinguished philatelic judge as well as a renowned philatelic exhibitor. Both appreciate the important function the library plays in leading them to the resources they require for their different roles in the world of philatelic exhibiting.
This week as we celebrate National Library Week with its motto “Libraries Lead” we recognize the role that libraries like the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) play in “leading” a varied group of researchers and collectors to the philatelic resources and research needed for their enjoyment and enrichment of the hobby.
As part of a national celebration and recognition of libraries and librarians, today begins a very special week here at the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL). Sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), today marks the start of the 60th anniversary of National Library Week (April 8-14). First observed in 1958, the annual event recognizes the important contributions that libraries and librarians across the country play in their role as organizers and facilitators of knowledge, resources and research.
Tara Murray is the Librarian and Director of Information Services for the American Philatelic Research Library. She manages the library’s operations and collections and leads digitization projects.
Jane King Fohn was interested in making her gold and grand award-winning exhibit, The 9-cent Alamo Stamp and its First Day Covers, available to a wider audience. A display in the American Philatelic Center would only reach the limited audience of those who can make the trip to Bellefonte and wouldn’t be permanent, so I suggested that Jane lend us her exhibit for scanning. When she agreed and sent us the exhibit, we scanned it and added the digital copy to the library collection. It is now accessible through the library catalog and the APS online exhibit collection.
Fred Baumann is a Library Assistant three days each week at the APRL. He helps patrons select materials, checks material in and out at the circulation desk, keeps a close eye on overdue books, processes payments for library services, shelves and locates books and periodicals, and prices donated books for resale.
When I moved to Bellefonte as an active collector a decade ago, I found the APRL both enchanting and intimidating. With hundreds of books and journals about the things I collected, the chief challenge was discovering what was indispensable and what was not. That task is even more difficult for patrons searching an unfamiliar online catalog from afar.
While I’m not a professional librarian, I do bring to the library an intimate familiarity with the stamp hobby both as a collector and as a writer for the last 33 years. My experience sometimes enables me to find precisely what a patron needs.
A collector requested literature about stamps of Bosnia & Herzegovina from the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The best-known reference is an 87-year-old text, too rare and fragile to leave the library. What he didn’t know was that there’s a superb catalog in full color with current stamp values, robustly bound and in great shape, that we could lend him without a worry. He was delighted, replying that he “found some valuable info for just about every stamp in my collection.”
Krystal Harter is a Library Assistant at the APRL, and is responsible for responding to researcher requests, processing incoming donations, and checking in new journals.
Collectors, organizations, and non-collector families are very generous when it comes to donating their accumulations of books, journals, notes, and other philatelic material. We actively receive current journals from approximately 525 organizations which are checked into our card catalog, online catalog, and then shelved for immediate use. Donated archival notes, clippings and research materials are catalogued and placed in our archival files and made available to collectors for their research. Philatelic reference books and stamp catalogs are processed by determining if we currently possess the 2-3 copies we keep in our collection and if not, they are cataloged, barcoded, and shelved for use. If not needed, we add them to the online catalog for sale to collectors.
Many collectors are very excited to have the opportunity to purchase the publications, at a discounted price, to have as their own rather than borrowing them. I remember receiving a call from a member with a limited income and living in an assisted home asking about borrowing a Scott Catalogue. Not only was the fee to borrow the catalog an issue, so was the fact that he had no way to get the publication to the post office to be appropriately mailed back to us. I mentioned that we had Scott Catalogues for sale, which were a few years old, and asked if he would be interested in purchasing one stating that he would just have the one-time fee and then the catalogue would be his to use from that point forward. You would have thought we offered this member a million dollars as he graciously accepted the offer to purchase the Scott Specialized Catalogue.