National Library Week and the APRL: “Libraries Lead”

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.

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A Stamp For The Neighborhood

PBS WQED Television Studios in Pittsburgh, PA

One of the benefits of being fortunate enough to work here at the APRL is that every once in a while an opportunity comes along to attend an event that is truly unique to the world of philately. One such opportunity came recently with the chance to attend the Mister Rogers first day ceremony this past Friday, March 23, at the WQED-TV PBS Studios in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Postal History: Alive and Well in West Chester, PA

Chester County Historical Society building in downtown West Chester, PA

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend an informative lecture about the postal history between Canada and the United States during the Civil War. The talk was titled “Canada – British North America (B.N.A.) Union and Confederate Postal Cross Border Correspondence during the U.S. Civil War” and was given by prominent B.N.A. philatelist and award winning exhibitor Ron Majors. The talk marked one in a series of postal history lectures organized by APS member and noted postal historian Bill Schultz in conjunction with an extraordinary exhibit concerning postal history titled “You’ve Got Mail!” currently on display at the Chester County Historical Society Museum (http://www.chestercohistorical.org/) in downtown West Chester, PA from November 24, 2017 through April 28, 2018.

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Volunteering at the APRL in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Penn State MLK volunteers opening boxes of philatelic literature donations.

One of the more rewarding experiences at the APRL are when we are fortunate enough to have volunteers come to the library to help us with various tasks. One such occasion happened this past Monday when a group of students from the nearby Pennsylvania State University gave of their time to come for a visit and to volunteer in the library as part of a Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Upon arriving at the American Philatelic Center in the late morning the students were given a brief tour of the building and then shown some tasks in the library keeping busy until the late afternoon. Continue reading “Volunteering at the APRL in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Chicagopex to feature literature

Chicagopex is one of only two shows in the U.S. to feature a literature competition (the other is APS StampShow). This year, the show will also feature three book signings:

  • Nov. 17, 1 p.m. – The Pictorial History of Walt Disney’s First Superstar: Mickey Mouse,  by Edward Bergen
  • Nov. 18, 2 p.m. – U.S. Contract Mail Routes by Railroad (1832-1875) by Hugh V. Feldman
  • Nov. 19, 11 a.m. – Holocaust Postal History by Justin Gordon

I’ll be at the show, so if you’re there, stop by the APS booth and say hello!

150 Years of Canadian Philately Event at Vincent Graves Greene

Upon being invited by Kathy Hartley, the Reference Librarian at the Harry Sutherland Research of the Vincent Graves Greene Research Foundation in Toronto, I had the special opportunity to attend the “Canada’s First 150 Years of Philately” event at the Research Foundation on July 8. The idea for the event was the brainchild of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada in order to celebrate 150 years of Canadian Confederation and to highlight many of the philatelic and national events of significance in each of those 150 years. Members of the Society and other interested Canadian philatelists nationwide were asked to select a year and then put together a one page exhibit for that year, with some participants doing pages for multiple years. The result was an extraordinary display of Canadian and British North American pride and philately with exhibit pages depicting and honoring various philatelic and non-philatelic events such as the first Canadian stamps printed in Canada; CAPEX, the first international stamp exhibition in Canada; the creation of the Philatelic Society of Canada and then the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada; the development of the Avro Arrow aircraft; the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Cup; and even a page dealing with Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip among many others.

After a brief ceremony the 151 exhibit pages (there was one extra page for good measure) were unveiled from underneath an appropriate draping in the shape and colors of the Canadian flag. The event took place in the meeting room of the Research Foundation and was well attended, with over 60 members, philatelists and interested onlookers present. Many of the exhibitors were also present, answering questions and providing informal explanations of their pages. While there, many attendees were also invited to tour the Research Library and to watch the Foundation’s state-of-the-art expertizing tool, the VSC6000/HS Video Spectral Comparator, in action as it examined various philatelic items.

One of the added highlights of the event for this librarian was an original Globe and Mail newspaper issue (the Globe and Mail is the oldest national newspaper in Canada still in publication) dated July 1, 1867, the day of Canadian Confederation. The newspaper, displayed under glass, was in remarkable condition and represented an extraordinary piece of Canadian history.

In all, the event provided not only an incredible opportunity to see and experience the rich and varied history of Canadian philately, but it also afforded everyone in attendance a remarkable moment to share in their national philatelic pride.

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Tara Murray: an expert in making resources available online

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.

 

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Siegel catalog for Inverted Jenny sale available

The catalog for the McCoy Inverted Jenny – position 76 sale by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries is now available online.

The sale, scheduled for May 11 at 1:30 p.m. in New York City, features the American Philatelic Research Library‘s recently recovered Inverted Jenny stamp. The stamp, Position 76 of the famous McCoy Block, stolen in 1955 at a stamp show in Norfolk, Virginia, was recovered by the APRL at a public event in June 2016 during the World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the APRL’s new library facility.

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Fred Baumann: an expert in finding just the right publication for our stamp-collecting patrons

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.”

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Krystal Harter: an expert at turning donations into library resources

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.

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