In the 3rd quarter issue of The Philatelic Literature Review, five recent additions to the Vooys fellowship were profiled. In this issue several more recent Fellows shared their insights on the APRL.
The Vooys fellowship, named after Daniel W. Vooys, was established in 2007 to recognize those who have supported the APRL and its missions with a donation of $5,000, given over a period of five years. Vooys (1918-1978) himself helped found the American Philatelic Research Library and began publication of this journal. Current Fellows continue his legacy of support for philatelic literature.
The number of Vooys Fellows has grown rapidly in the last two years. APS Executive Director Scott English attributes that success to “two reasons: 1. The growth coincides with retirement of the Match Factory mortgage in 2020, [meaning that] supporters are now dedicating contributions to non-debt items like Vooys and digitization, and 2. We asked and our members are responding. We plan to keep asking, so please join us in growing the Fellowship.”
Vooys Fellow privileges include: A vote for Founder/Patron representative on APRL Board of Trustees; an opportunity to run for Founder/Patron representative on the APRL Board of Trustees; a lifetime subscription to the Philatelic Literature Review; a personal Vooys Fellow plaque; and their name on a Vooys Fellow plaque in the APRL.
The 3rd quarter issue includes a full list of Vooys Fellows listed by the year in which they were named. Since the publication of that issue, another has joined the ranks of 2022 Fellows: Stephen Bonowski. He and several other Fellows share their stories below.
We have also received pledges from William O’Connor, Van Siegling, Chris Green, and Foster Miller, who we will proudly welcome to Vooys fellowship over the next several years. We thank you for your trust in the APRL and its missions, and for your investment in its future.
Frank and Marjory Sente
At a young age both of us used the local library and quickly understood its importance to extending our knowledge of the world. We are longtime supporters of libraries from public to university and specialized ones.
As Frank is a former APRL librarian (1973-1974), he knows firsthand the importance of monetary support for the library’s infinite need for funds. When Frank worked for the APRL and then the APS, Marj spent many hours at the APRL doing research and reading philatelic journals.
So it was an easy decision in fall 2021 to forego worrying about supply line issues and finding the right Christmas gift for one another. We decided to support the APRL by becoming Vooys Fellows.
Tom Bieniosek expertizes the stamps of Poland for the American Philatelic Expertizing Service. He has presented programs about Polish philately for the American Philatelic Society summer seminar. He is chairman of the Publications Committee of the Polonus Polish Philatelic Society. Tom is a current trustee of the American Philatelic Research Library. He offered the following words about the APRL’s missions and future.
The APRL and librarian Scott Tiffney deserve the highest commendations for their efforts in digitizing the library’s journals and books. Journals and books in the Robert Mason Digital Library are readily accessible through the website.
In addition, the search function works smoothly and accurately, which greatly enhances the library’s role in making philatelic information readily accessible. All readers of the Philatelic Literature Review are encouraged to access our digital library and browse.
Yet, the rapid rate of change in the information technology field raises some points of concern. Twenty-five years ago, data was commonly stored on 5¼-inch floppy discs. How much of that data could be read today, without a huge effort? Netscape, the leading browser at that time, and AltaVista, the leading search engine, disappeared years ago; Google was founded in 1998. Today, users don’t own software; all they can do is acquire a limited license. Data doesn’t reside with the user; instead it’s stored in some ill-defined cloud.
Digital media itself poses inherent problems. For example, the usable life of the polycarbonate substrates forming storage units such as optical discs is rather limited. Consider plastic objects made in the 1960s. These have all degraded with time to some extent.
The software used for searching digital data also must be viewed as having a limited life. It doesn’t take too many revisions for a software creator to stop supporting the original software. Moreover, current commercial search engines routinely skew their results, a process that more than likely will become worse with time.
These concerns point out that converting information into a digital format is just the start of the commitment of our library. Maintaining accessibility will require an ever-increasing effort.
These concerns also point out the wisdom for keeping our information on paper. Yes, paper is subject to loss by fire, mold, moisture, and vermin. However, our library is well designed to prevent such losses. Books printed up to 250 years ago, well before the start of philately, are still quite legible and understandable. Let’s hope that the third or fourth generation of library trustees from now will continue to understand the need for a physical library.
Very much connected to these aspects of modern information science is the large amount of excellent philatelic knowledge available on the world wide web. Whether in the form of outstanding videos – such as Exploring Stamps and Conversations with Philatelists – or the numerous websites dedicated to various philatelic societies, or the numerous personal websites explaining the details of forgeries or stamp issues in general, or the numerous philatelic conversation boards, this knowledge can provide deep insights into seemingly all aspects of philately. Moreover, this information becomes available almost instantaneously with the use of the right search terms in your favorite search engine.
Yet, here, too, some concerns must be noted. Sometimes, web links contained in these online resources lead to dead web pages, or “404 error” messages. Being able to access all that useful information depends on the website’s owner continuing to pay for registration and continuing to update the software for the website. All too often, the dead web page results from the owner losing interest, or, even worse, dying. Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is one way to work around that problem, but that approach has limits when the new owners of the website decide to block the Wayback Machine from displaying content once found on the website. Preserving the philatelic knowledge found on the worldwide web would be a goal for our library worth considering.
A Vooys membership is a pledge of support for the APRL. What does the library mean to you?
As I’ve aged out of serious (for me) mountaineering and long distance trekking, I’ve turned back to my first hobby love of philately. The David Straight Memorial Union Catalog brings a large number of philatelic libraries to my computer screen as I’ve researched for writing articles and working on my first exhibit.
The APRL’s missions are to preserve philatelic research and literature, and make resources widely accessible through APRL digital. Why are these important to the future of philately?
These missions are critical to the future of philately as many of us are aging and moving to dispose of lifetimes of philatelic collecting. As the institutional memories depart, for one reason or another, the accumulated knowledge can remain.
Why should readers consider supporting the APRL and its missions?
If it’s not you joining to support the APRL, then who? If now is not the time, then when?
Please share a few words about yourself.
My lifetime of philately began like those of many others. I was introduced to the hobby in April of 1960, at age 10, by my late father. I stuck with it during schooling and joined the APS in early 1974, a couple years out of college. I left Indiana for Colorado, and a job, in spring of 1981. I was a “bowling alone” collector for most of that time until the aging process really kicked in. I have found mountaineering and philately to be complementary hobbies. I’ve mailed cards to myself from exotic destinations and visited stamp shops, as a now-retired overseas trip leader for the Colorado Mountain Club.