National Library Week: Libraries = Tips from Our Community

Now that you’ve been introduced to the staff here at the American Philatelic Research Library, we thought as part of National Library Week we would next ask some of the staff to share what tips they could pass along to assist patrons and researchers to the APRL with our services and resources. In working with the resources every day and assisting patrons with their research, our staff have discovered some useful “tips of the trade” they would like to share with our philatelic “community.”

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National Library Week: “Libraries = Strong Communities”

As part of an annual national commemoration honoring libraries and librarians, today begins a very special week here at the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL). The American Library Association (ALA), the world’s largest and oldest library organization, highlights this week (April 7-13) as time to reflect and pay tribute to the role that libraries and librarians play in the creation, cultivation and dissemination of knowledge, research and resources. First observed in 1958 and now in its 61st year, this year’s theme for National Library Week is “Libraries = Strong Communities.” Here at the APRL we’ve taken this a step further coining the phrase “Libraries = Strong Philatelic Communities.”

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Book Restoration Fund and a Matching Challenge

Returned Catalog in Need of Repair

As mentioned in previous issues of the Philatelic Literature Review and this library blog, we are very fortunate here at the American Philatelic Research Library to have regular volunteers that assist us with the repair and restoration of our books and other materials. As is the case with any well-used research collection, materials that are used in the library or are sent through the mail to be borrowed by our members often sustain some wear and tear that in turn can lead to the natural deterioration of those materials.

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A Golden Anniversary Event for the APRL

“There is a major policy that has been close to my heart for some time. It is the establishment of a Society Library as an increased benefit to members. It is easy to say “set up a library, but it must be useful to all members who may be thousands of miles distant.”

APS President Edward L. Willard

With those words in 1967 to the gathered membership at the 81st annual American Philatelic Society (APS) convention in Newark, New Jersey, APS President Edward L. Willard signaled the need for a research repository and proposed the “creation of a Library Service” for the Society. At the following year’s convention in Rochester, New York President Willard, along with the APS Board, decided to resurrect the idea of a research library. After forming an ad hoc committee led by Daniel Vooys to study the feasibility of a library, the filing of the appropriate paperwork in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania soon followed and the incorporation of the new “American Philatelic Research Library” (APRL) was granted on October 28, 1968.

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“Libraries Lead” : Philatelic Judging and the APRL

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.

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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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Visit to Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation

Charles Verge and Scott Tiffney

Back in June I had the opportunity to visit the Vincent Grave Greene Philatelic Research Foundation in Toronto, Ontario. Charles Verge, Secretary of the Foundation, Sheila Moll, the Head Librarian, and Kathy Hartley, the Reference Librarian there were my hosts showing me around the Library and the facilities of the Foundation.

The Foundation is located at 10 Summerhill Avenue in Toronto, Ontario in the beautiful Summerhill neighborhood just north of the downtown, easily reachable by car or more conveniently by a nearby subway station. The Foundation is home to the Harry Sutherland Research Library which houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of Canadian and British North America philatelic literature in North America. The collection includes all of the most important monographs, journals, Postal Guides, Postmaster General Reports, auction catalogues and research papers on British North America. Many of the earliest journals in the collection have been scanned and are available digitally for full-text searching. The Research Library is a contributor to the David Straight Memorial Philatelic Union Catalog and the Global Philatelic Library, making their collection searchable online.

The Research Foundation is also home to Canada’s foremost expertizing service for the stamps and postal history of Canada and British North America. In February 2012 the Foundation purchased a Foster Freeman VSC6000/HS Video Spectral Comparator which allows the Foundation’s Expertizing Committee to examine items under some of the highest magnification commercially available as well as exposing the material to a wide range of wavelengths of ultraviolet, infrared and filtered visible light. Also on site is a large meeting room with exhibit frames mounted on its walls. The space is used regularly by a number of local clubs and societies, notably the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada, the Greater Toronto Area Philatelic Alliance and the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society. But finally, one of the truly unique objects, especially for this native philatelic traveler and librarian, is the original safe of the Marks Stamp Company, one of Canada’s oldest and most significant stamp dealers. The safe is still operational and is a centerpiece in the Research Library.

If you plan to visit Canada near Toronto or are just interested in the philatelic history of British North America, be sure to make time to visit the Vincent Graves Greene Research Foundation. They are open Mondays through Thursdays and one Saturday a month from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and by appointment. Email or phone ahead (library@greenefoundation.ca or 416-921-2073) just in case.

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Philatelic Libraries and Philatelic Exhibiting

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Exhibits at stamp shows are a major attraction for those attending the shows. I’ve been attending state and national level stamp shows for almost twenty years and exhibiting at those shows for almost a dozen years. As both an attendee and an exhibitor I am always in awe of how much philatelic knowledge is represented by the exhibits, and how much knowledge is required by the judges to evaluate the exhibits. While personal philatelic libraries play a large role in obtaining that knowledge, organizational philatelic libraries also play a significant role. Most exhibitors prepare a synopsis of their exhibits which often includes reference sources to help judges evaluate their exhibit. If an exhibit judge is fortunate he/she may have easy access to a philatelic library which includes the reference sources cited by exhibitors. If not, exhibit judges can make remote use of the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL), and they often do. Any member of the American Philatelic Society can borrow books by mail from the APRL. The APRL will also send digital copies of periodical articles for a small fee, and even do customized research, also for a reasonable fee. Some of the nation’s other organizational philatelic libraries such as the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library will also loan books by mail if you are a member of the library. In addition to exhibitors and judges of exhibits, anyone who enjoys viewing philatelic exhibits is a beneficiary of organizational philatelic libraries. Thus the value of philatelic libraries extends beyond those who make direct use of the library. That’s one of the reasons I’m a supporter of the APRL and other philatelic libraries.

Philatelic libraries embrace technology

The Januanry/February 2015 issue of Book Reports, the newsletter of the Northwest Philatelic Library, contains an excellent article by Greg Alexander on the many ways philatelic libraries are embracing technology, including indexing journals, union catalogs of library holdings, digitizing books and journals, and even building or renovating libraries.

StampShow attendees tour Watkinson Library

Curator Richard Ring gives an introduction to the Watkinson Library
Curator Richard Ring gives an introduction to the Watkinson Library

About a dozen APS StampShow attendees got a peek at the collections of the Watkinson Library at Trinity College while they were in Hartford, Conn.

The Watkinson Library is a public research library and also houses the rare books and special collections of the Trinity College Library. Its holdings date from the 15th century to the present.

Tour attendees admire a rare book from the Watkinson collection
Tour attendees admire a rare book from the Watkinson collection

Curator Richard Ring gave us a tour of the library, including an exhibition of artists’ books and the library’s copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. He then took the group into the library’s Audubon Room, where we got to see items from the collection, including a cuneiform tablet, an illuminated manuscript, and leaves from a Gutenberg Bible, among other treasures.

Ring also explained to the group how he uses rare books in teaching Trinity College undergraduates and how he sparks interest in the collections through special events at the library. We bibliophiles enjoyed a little diversion from all things philatelic—and then it was back to the stamp show!