Digital Public Library of America opens

Men and Mail in Transit
Men and Mail in Transit, a 1956 Post Office Department film available through the new Digital Public Library of America

Yesterday, in the middle of National Library Week, the Digital Public Library of America opened.

The DPLA provides a single point of access to millions of items from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. I knew there must be items of philatelic interest among those millions, and a quick search yielded several examples, including a Lindbergh cover from the Smithsonian and several Post Office Department films from the National Archives.

National Library Week: Digital resources

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

book cover
The APRL digitized The United States Issues of 1918-1920, which has entered the public domain

The library provides access to a growing collection of digital resources. Compared to print resources, these can provide increased access as well as increased functionality like search and zoom.

Some of these are print resources digitized by the APRL. There are currently three books digitized by the APRL available for sale on CD or DVD in the APS Digital Publications Shop, and more available for download through our online catalog. For an example, look up Donald Lybarger’s The United States Issues of 1918-1920.

Elmo loves stamp collecting
An exhibit available online from the APS and APRL

Others have been donated by members, including many scans of exhibits as well as government documents scanned at other libraries and from personal collections. Gary Loew and Chet Smith have made large contributions of U.S. Post Office Department publications and we are working on getting all of these online.

Still others, including exhibits, e-books, digitized journals, indexes, and more, are available for loan on CD- or DVD-ROM. These can be searched and requested from the library just like books.

Hathi Trust
Many non-philatelic sites contain a wealth of philatelic literature, especially books published before 1923 (in the public domain)

And many more publications of philatelic interest are available online from other sources. Whenever we find these, we add links to our catalog records. You can also search for publications on Google Books, the Internet Archive, and the Hathi Trust. The Hathi Trust site allows users to register and create a list of publications. My co-blogger Larry Nix and I have been adding publications to a list called Philatelic Literature.

We continue to build our digital collections through scanning, donation, and searching other libraries and archives for relevant content. You can browse our catalog records with digital content using the link in the right sidebar of the Philatelic Union Catalog.

If you are an author, publisher, or exhibitor and would like to help us by contributing content you own the copyright to, please contact me.

National Library Week: Meet the library staff

APRL staff
The APRL staff. From left to right: Krystal Harter, library assistant; Deb Placky, library assistant; Betsy Gamble, technical services coordinator; Tara Murray, director of information services/librarian; Scott Tiffney, reference assistant.

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

The APRL makes as much material as possible available online so researchers can identify and request research material any time. This includes our online catalog and article index, digital publications, the Philatelic Literature Review, subject guides and finding aids, and this blog. Our staff works hard behind the scenes to make all of this possible, but we are also available to assist you personally in finding the information you seek.

We receive phone calls, emails, and letters daily from members looking for anything from a page in a catalog to a literature search. While we do not have the time to do extensive research for you, we are always happy to look something up in a book or journal, to help you search the catalog, to give advice on the best way to proceed, and to copy or scan indexes, tables of contents, and other references that may assist you in requesting material from the library.

Whether you are just curious about something in your collection or embarking on a serious research project, we welcome the challenge of answering your questions.

You can reach us at, 814-933-3803 (select option 3 for the library), or APRL, 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823.


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.

APRL celebrates National Library Week 2013

Communities matter @ your library: celebrate National Library Week April 14-20

APRLThe American Philatelic Research Library joins libraries in schools, campuses, and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week April 14–20. This week is a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians, and library workers.

Libraries today are more than repositories for books and other resources. Though the people who use the APRL live all over the country and around the world, the APRL serves as a common place for stamp collectors, postal historians, and anyone researching stamps and the mail.

Read the full press release on the APS website for more, and check back at this blog each day April 14-20 for a new post about how communities matter at the APRL!