The following is an article from the first quarter 2023 Philatelic Literature Review (PLR). To read more articles like this, subscribe to the PLR today!
“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.” – Charles Dickens
With the upcoming Recognition issue of The American Philatelist in April and Volunteer Work Week (VWW) on the horizon in July, the library staff here has begun to turn our attention to compiling a list of volunteer opportunities at the APRL. Whether remotely or in person, we welcome and are grateful to all those who have given of their time, whether currently or in the past, to assist us with a wide variety of library projects. Those interested in volunteering for us before VWW can always contact us at [email protected] to see what is currently available.
But with an eye toward VWW and those interested in assisting us during that time, here are a few volunteer projects in the library we’ve identified so far: shelving material, repairing materials (barcoding and labels), sorting/inventorying donations, organizing/creating space in the Archives area, scanning/digitizing materials, processing materials for resale in our used book inventory, shelf-reading/sorting current collections, and “weeding” the journal and book collection (i.e. removing unnecessary or duplicate items).
Be sure to check back to the Volunteer Work Week page on the APS website for updates regarding the week’s events and the volunteer opportunities for attendees in other APS departments.
First quarter digitization update
Since starting Phase 1 of the APRL Digitization Plan in March 2022 the Robert A. Mason Digital Library (RMDL) has undergone considerable growth, specifically in the area of journal titles and issues now available in the database. Currently in this phase of the project the number of digital journal issues added to the RMDL is 3,682, bringing the total number in the database to 6,540. In conjunction with the number of issues uploaded, so too the number of journal titles in the database has grown from 12 to 37.
Some of the more notable journal titles added to the database in this initial phase are the Bulletin of the Polonus Philatelic Society, the Airpost Journal, El Quetzal, Tell, the British Caribbean Philatelic Journal, Post Boy, Menelik’s Journal, Cameo, Penny Post, Philateli-Graphics, the UK Log, the British West Indies Study Circle Bulletin, the Bounty, the Florida Postal History Journal, the Cape and Natal Philatelic Journal and the Pitcairn Log.
What has been equally rewarding at this stage of the project is that as the size and scope of the database has grown, so too has its use by patrons conducting their own research remotely.
Currently the RMDL is experiencing an average of 1,321 access events a month (i.e. “access events” are actions which include users access the database to search, download or print items). The number of these access events per month in this quarter is a 59 percent increase in the same activity from 2021. In addition, the number of unique patrons or users each month (differentiated by IP address) has averaged approximately 789, a 70 precent increase from 2021’s monthly average.
As the number of database users has increased, the future challenge is to educate those users and potential users in order to make their experience with the RMDL as seamless and beneficial to them as possible. Through video sessions and tutorials in the coming months, we will create and make available specialized learning opportunities on the library page of the APS website and with remote and in-person tutorials.
Finally, we are currently in the process of revisiting an updated donation policy for the library. With roughly 90 percent of the collection being comprised of donations and with items arriving daily from donors, the need for a clear and inclusive policy became warranted. The policy will reflect a prudent path for the grow and maintenance the collection in order to meet the research needs of our patrons while also being mindful of the shelving and storage space we have available.
We never want to discourage those who wish to donate materials to the library, but we do want to educate donors and to make the best use of the space in the library and the storage areas that supplement the library. The donation policy will cover the types of materials that fit within the subject and format scope of the collection with the goal of providing for donors a better understanding of the donation process. We hope to present an initial version of the policy sometime in the next few months.