US Stamps

By Donna Houseman

American Philatelic Research Library is a gift to stamp collectors everywhere

August 06, 2015 02:57 PM

  • A rendering of the new American Philatelic Research Library by the architecture firm Pieper, O’Brien, Herr Architects.

The American Philatelic Research Library announces that the final phase of its construction is under way at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pa.

The library is the landlord of the American Philatelic Society. The library owned the building in State College, Pa., the former residence of both the APS and APRL, and now owns the current building, also known as the match factory, in Bellefonte, Pa. The building is called the match factory because its original owner was the Pennsylvania Match Co.

Created in 1968, the APRL is one of the greatest resources that exists for stamp collectors. Its website boasts that the library's “nearly three miles of shelving contain more than 21,000 book titles and 5,700 journal titles.”

The library is one of the largest philatelic libraries in the world.

The final phase of construction will complete 19,500 square feet of library space in the facility. When finished, the library will occupy two floors of buildings 3 and 4 of the American Philatelic Center.

If you aren’t currently a member of the APS, the library and the low-cost stamp insurance, in my opinion, are two of the greatest benefits of membership.

Collectors who can’t visit the library can borrow books and have them delivered by mail. The APRL also will scan or photocopy selections from books or articles from publications. The staff, under the skillful direction of librarian Tara Murray, are friendly and willing to help by phone or e-mail.

Tara told me that the APRL receives about 2,000 requests a year.

In her report to the APRL board of trustees in August 2014, she said, “The APRL serves, on average, about 1,500 individual APS members each year. Many of these are returning users, but typically about 50 of these are first-time library users.

The library loans roughly 2,250 books loaned a year.

The APRL also provides limited services to non-members for a higher fee, but collectors are wise to join the APS to enjoy other membership benefits.

Non-members can borrow books and materials from their local library through the interlibrary loan program.

Search the APRL’s online catalog of its collection of books, journals, articles and auction catalogs at

The APRL also publishes a quarterly journal, Philatelic Literature Review. Subscribers are kept up to date on APRL news, bibliographies, indexes and reviews of current philatelic literature.