08/23/2016 (P1774)

World’s Largest Philatelic Library Officially Opens


BELLEFONTE, PA. (August 23, 2016) — The world’s largest philatelic library officially has a new home, is open for business, and plans to celebrate October 28–29 with a formal grand opening.

The American Philatelic Research Library moved into its state-of-the-art space last week following a year-long $2.6 million construction project. The 19,000-square-foot library increases its floor space by about 60 percent at the American Philatelic Center, which it shares with the American Philatelic Society in a historic former match factory in central Pennsylvania. The library is open to the public, though only members have borrowing privileges.

“Stamps tell many stories and have preserved all that we are as a nation ,” said Scott English, Executive Director of the American Philatelic Society. “This library is home to many of those important stories and now, more than every before, can make it accessible to collectors and the public.”

The library has the world’s largest and most accessible collection of philatelic literature. Some of its rarest and most prized titles date to the very early days of collecting in the 1860s.

Visitors can now enjoy the library’s bright, modern and handsome new space while utilizing its extensive collection of more than 80,000 volumes and special collections devoted to stamp collecting and the study of postage stamps and mail services occupying more than 3 miles of shelf space.

“Our world-class collections and services now have a world-class home,” said APRL Librarian Tara Murray. “I can’t wait to show it to our supporters and members.”

To celebrate, the library will host a grand opening celebration Friday and Saturday, October 28–29. Events are expected to draw many supporters of the library, APS members, and most board members of the APRL and the APS.

A dinner on site is scheduled for the evening of October 28. David Beech will be the keynote speaker. Beech was the curator of the Philatelic Collections at the British Library from 1983 to 2013, and head of that department from 1991 until his retirement in 2013.

Tickets are $100, including a $25 donation to the APRL and are available, along with more details online, or call 814-933-3816.
A ceremonial opening will be held that Saturday, October 29, followed by tours. Library staff will be on hand.

More About the New Library, Grand Opening, APS

For Members and the Public: The APRL serves as the library for APS members by phone and email, online, and via book loans by mail. The library also is open to the public during regular weekday business hours and participates in interlibrary loan.

Grand Opening Guest Speaker: David Beech, now retired, served for 30 years as the curator of the Philatelic Collections at the British Library. His responsibilities included the Crawford Library of philatelic literature and he initiated its conservation program, the publication of its modern printed catalog and its recent digitization project. He is a fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London and was its president from 2003 to 2005.

Upgrades Aplenty: The APRL can now store its valuable and fragile items in two adjacent closed stacks areas employing space-saving compact shelving and map and rare book rooms. Previously, storage areas were in separate areas of the complex. Wi-Fi connection throughout and ample outlets to plug in phones, tablets, and laptops.

That Special Look: The public area is spacious and bright, with a 2½-story high atrium roof and a clerestory providing natural light. Four large Mission-style tables equipped with their own lighting and electrical outlets and matching chairs are in the center of an open area. Open stacks beneath faux copper ceilings on two sides of the room hold the library’s books, government documents, exhibits, and show programs. At the back of the main floor, there’s a cozy reading lounge, conference table for group study, and a children’s area, all with large windows. The loft-style second floor is reached by a wide center staircase or a side elevator. The open stacks house the library’s journals and airmail collections. The second floor includes two more reading lounges and a carrel room with storage lockers for visiting researchers. Windows overlook Talleyrand Park.

Service: Visitors can take advantage of three service desks, two on the main floor and one on the second floor, as well as a public computer, book scanner, and photocopier on each floor. Library staff and volunteers have work space on the main floor, and visitors can take advantage of restrooms within the library space.

Shop: The main floor includes a shop for used and new books, gifts and souvenirs, and stamps and covers, selected from material donated to the APS and APRL.

Final costs: About $4 million with a significant portion provided by many generous donors including many who gave $5,000 or more for naming opportunities. This cost includes the structural, floor and roof work that was completed a few years ago.
Contractor: Veronesi Building & Remodeling of State College, Pennsylvania.

Moving: The bulk of the move from the old library in an adjacent building was accomplished over two weeks by a professional library mover, with help from volunteer and staff labor.

History: The library was incorporated in 1968 and shares space in the American Philatelic Center with the American Philatelic Society, which was founded in 1886. Both are nonprofits.

The Match Factory: The philatelic center complex of 18 adjoining buildings is off Willowbank Street in the Bellefonte Borough’s southwest corner. The original buildings served as a match factory from its opening in 1899 to 1947. The complex’s main use thereafter was as a hardware store and warehouse for many years. The APRL purchased the vacant and dilapidated property in 2002 and moved from State College in 2004. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The APS and APRL have now completed more than $16 million in renovations to the approximately 100,000 square-foot facility, which includes rental space of 45,000 square feet to 11 tenants.

For more information, contact Tara Murray, Librarian, at 814-933-3803 ext. 246