It is with deepest sadness that the American Philatelic Society (APS) and the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) announce the passing of past APRL Librarian Gini Horn. Gini left us peacefully surrounded by friends and family. Gini’s immeasurable contributions to the APS, and specifically the APRL, have laid the foundation for what we know today as the largest and most accessible public philatelic library in the world.
Gini first came to work at the library on September 1, 1984 and after 25 years in the position of Librarian retired in 2010. When first hearing that she had been accepted for the job she told a family member “it’s a stamp library, how big could it be?” Over the next 25 years Gini was not only responsible for growing the library, its resources and services, but also in 2004 coordinated its move from Oakwood Avenue in State College, Pennsylvania, to the Match Factory complex 10 miles away in Bellefonte.
A friendly and welcoming face to all who frequented the library, during the course of her time at the APRL Gini was involved in a number of different duties and tasks that served both APS members as well as the worldwide philatelic community.
Gini implemented the library’s first online catalog, using the InMagic platform (later InMagic Genie), for what is now the David A. Straight Memorial Philatelic Union Catalog. For the philatelic world, in 1996 at CAPEX ’96, she was one of the founding organizers of the International Philatelic Libraries Association (IPLA) which was comprised of 45 representatives from 25 libraries in Canada, France, England, Germany, Finland, Cyprus and South Africa.
Gini attended many stamp shows where she often worked at the APS booth and gave presentations on the resources available at APRL and how to access them. She also contributed many columns and articles for The American Philatelist and the Philatelic Literature Review, many of which were about the library and its resources, but also others about philatelic subjects.
Past APRL Librarians (l to r) Lois Evans de Violini, Gini Horn and Tara Murray Grove
Her greatest contribution to the APS and APRL was in her role as a librarian. As Ellen Peachey, past APRL Reference Assistant, put it “before there was Google, there was Gini. She had the ability to take a request for information, walk into the stacks, and come out with this, that, and the other resource almost by instinct. Her ability to find that needle in the haystack was impressive. It wasn't really magic. She knew the collection and she loved the satisfaction of helping others find what they were looking for and the satisfaction of being good at her job.”
Gini would also take the time to mentor and assist other librarians as needed. Past APRL Librarian Tara Murray Grove, who succeeded Gini in the position, states “Gini was never more than a phone call or email away, ready to share her vast institutional knowledge or to help find the location of a missing key or archives box.”
Never considering herself an avid stamp collector, Gini did enjoy topical collecting, specifically hippos on stamps. In her time away from the APRL, apart from knitting and going for walks, she enjoyed music and was a gifted pianist. For vacation, she often visited Williamsburg, Virginia and took annual trips to Myrtle Beach with her sister, Erma. Here at the APS she often treated the staff to her “famous” and delicious banana bread. Proud of her Scottish heritage, Gini was equally proud of being able to sing in its entirety the Leadbelly racehorse blues song “Stewball,” later made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary.
On behalf of the APS, the APRL and all those who share a memory of Gini, we want to wish our deepest condolences to the Horn family and their friends. Gini has left an immeasurable mark on both the APS and APRL and her contributions to both organizations will never be forgotten.