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!
Volunteering is crucial to the American Philatelic Research Library and the American Philatelic Society. It augments the time and efforts of the staff and can bring great joy to those participating.
As you consider your plans for this year, please give some thought to helping out the APRL.
Volunteering from home
For many of us, our hobby provides hours of enjoyment, including looking up stamps in catalogs or learning about them via research as well as gingerly adding them to our albums. Not to mention those collectors who want to share their wares with others through putting together carefully crafted exhibits that they later enter in stamp show competitions.
With our increased connectedness via the internet, members can volunteer to help the digital library grow. Over the years, philatelists and postal historians have written thousands of articles and books. The APRL is fortunate to have many of these publications; some are already electronic. There remains a need to add them to the digital catalog so library patrons can find them.
The great thing about participating in indexing is you can determine how you wish to specialize. If you receive a specialty journal from a society, there is an opportunity to write short entries for the digital catalog. If you want to learn about other areas of the hobby from a more general perspective, you can also do that. In summer 2022, I wrote catalog entries for at least a dozen articles from The Congress Book – many areas were new to me. It was a great way to be exposed to aspects of the hobby I do not normally consider.
Fortunately, there is a defined format to follow and a list of definitions on which an indexer can rely. To learn more about how you can participate, please contact APRL librarian Marian Mills at [email protected].
The massive Trenchard Collection donation arrived on more than a dozen pallets.
If you live within driving distance of the APRL, you may want to consider dedicating half a day or a day to come volunteer in person. The library receives numerous donations every year, and the library would benefit from help combing through the books and literature to determine whether those items are new or already in the holdings.
Some of the benefits to volunteers include in-person interaction and a change in venue. Sometimes it feels good to get out of the house, and what better way to spend time than in the warm environs of the APRL?
Choosing this option gives you flexibility too – you can determine which days work best for your schedule and coordinate with the staff.
Volunteers sort material from the Trenchard Collection at last year’s Volunteer Work Week.
Volunteer Work Week
For a truly immersive experience, mark your calendars for July 17 to 21. That’s the dedicated Volunteer Work Week at the APS and APRL. Volunteers can attend for a few days up to the entire week. One great aspect is you can start off doing one volunteer activity and have a chance to change if you would like some variety. You are not locked into a certain project for the entire time.
I attended in 2022. Library volunteers fanned out to help with a variety of projects. On the second floor, five of us combed through boxes of donations from years past. There was a bit of a backlog due to the pandemic. The boxes contained items such as auction catalogs, show programs, articles and books.
Due to space considerations, the library retains two copies of most auction catalogs. Additional copies were recycled. I spent entire days searching auction catalogs in the digital catalog to determine if they were already in stock. Another volunteer from Chicagoland, Roy Gelder, focused his energy on journals, some of which were separated for scanning.
In the Morse Building (the old library space), another team of volunteers assisted with the Trenchard donation, which resulted in clearing out two pallets of material (out of 25). To learn more about that donation, please search on stamps.org – the library staff has authored several updates on what it contains and the progress made.
I was fortunate that my company offered five volunteer days, which I was able to use by coming to Bellefonte. If your company offers a similar benefit, I encourage you to consider supporting the library.
If you have attended Summer Seminar, I want to point out the atmosphere of Volunteer Work Week is very different. Folks who attend this are here to work and spend less time socializing. It’s perfect for introverts. Still, the staff did a great job being welcoming and keeping some departments open late for volunteers to use after hours, including circuit sales and the library. There was also a happy hour one evening.
If you would like to participate, I encourage you to book your hotel early and stay tuned for when registration opens to be a volunteer. Planning early will help because there are a limited number of slots. The web URL is: https://stamps.org/learn/volunteer-work-week.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering with the library, please email [email protected] or go to stamps.org/library, and the staff will be in touch about available opportunities.