03/18/2016 (P1768)

Leaky Roof Threatens Library Holdings

BELLEFONTE, PA – Construction of a new $2.6 million library caused a roof leak at the American Philatelic Center, headquarters of the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) and the American Philatelic Society (APS). During a rainy weekend, water leaked into the recently-completed George Turner Rare Book Room threatening some of the hardest-to-find philatelic literature in world. Quick action by the library staff, with assistance from Penn State University Libraries, minimized the long-term damage to books and other material.

Once the leak was discovered on the morning of Monday, March 14, library staff immediately removed material from the affected area, put protective covering in place, and initiated repairs to roof damage caused by construction activity. Construction and renovation can be risky times for libraries.

APRL Librarian Tara Murray noted, "The bright side is this was a one-time incident related to construction and not an ongoing problem. Once the construction is complete, we expect the new library will be the safest home for our holdings ever.”

Along with putting the library materials out to dry, Murray contacted Sue Kellerman, head of the Penn State University Libraries Preservation Department. Kellerman and members of her staff were soon on site to assess the damage and provide expert advice. They even lent the APRL equipment, including fans to circulate air and hygrometers to measure humidity.
"The situation could have been much worse,” said Murray, "The quick action of the construction crew, staff, and volunteers, along with the response from Penn State University Libraries helped to minimize damage.”

As long as the emergency conservation measures are effective, the monetary impact for the APRL will be small and related to treatment of rare books. The library will attempt to replace unsalvageable auction catalogs through donations. For a list of the catalogs lost and information about donating replacement copies, see http://blog.stamplibrary.org/?p=3106.

All of the rare books and archival material were saved. Drying items quickly is important to eliminate the risk of growing mold, which can infect the rest of the collection. Five books were taken to Penn State to be vacuum freeze-dried, and the rest of the material was dried by the library staff.
The new 19,000-square-foot library should be open for visitors by early summer and a grand opening is scheduled for October 29. World Stamp Show-NY 2016 attendees can get an early look at the new library by attending a virtual tour at 11 a.m. on June 2.

The American Philatelic Research Library has one of the world's largest and most accessible collections of philatelic literature. It also holds several unique archives, including the Daniel Hines Air Mail Collection.

The APRL is a public nonprofit that relies heavily on volunteers and in-kind and monetary donations. Members of the APRL and the American Philatelic Society may borrow materials directly through the mail and others may access the collections through interlibrary loan. The APRL is open to the public and scholars are always welcome to do research on site. For more information, visit the APRL on the web at www.stamplibrary.org or call 814-933-3803 and select option 3 for the library.