US Stamps

APRL resumes library services but no in-person visits yet

May 26, 2020, 8 AM

By Michael Baadke

Although patrons still can’t visit the bookshelves, the American Philatelic Research Library has resumed providing services that were put on hold when the library was forced to close in mid-March.

The closure came as the state of Pennsylvania instituted guidelines for businesses to reduce the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

A newsletter from the American Philatelic Society emailed to members on May 18 said: “As we begin a new phase at the APRL during this time, we have now begun providing library service to our patrons again. Research, book borrowing, and scanning requests can now be sent to us. Welcome back to all our patrons to the services of the APRL.”

Scott Tiffney, the APRL librarian and director of Information Services, told Linn’s Stamp News that even while the library was closed, staff members working remotely from home were busy cataloging new materials in the collection, including books, journals and auction catalogs, as well as indexing articles into the library’s online catalog.

Staff members were also fulfilling reference requests that could be answered remotely, while filing other requests in a queue to be answered when the library reopened.

Tiffney explained that while the library was closed, staff began reaching out to APRL patrons, both members and nonmembers, providing free access to the library’s digital collections database, APRL Digital, “a growing library of online materials that are directly available to APS members.”

Links to available library collections and a description of library services can be found online at

“Library staff also participated in a series of virtual APRL information sessions as part of the APS Stamp Chats video series,” Tiffney said. “The sessions provided an opportunity for the library to promote its services and provide attendees the opportunity to ask questions of the library staff.

“Once the library is fully staffed again these sessions will continue with even more opportunities to promote the library and its services further.”

After state government guidelines allowed limited access to library staff on May 8, reference assistant Marsha Garman and Tiffney both worked on the reference request backlog while limiting library access to one staff member at a time.

Library assistant Sarah Berezenko and technical services coordinator Marian Mills continued working mostly from home, managing administrative and cataloging duties, respectively,

Current safety guidelines do not allow patron access to the library at this time, Tiffney said, but this situation will be closely monitored and any change will be announced on the APS and APRL platforms.

“Moving forward in the weeks ahead, we will begin to ramp up staffing in the library on more days to two personnel at any one time in order to continue to fulfill all library requests, accept donations and to complete all of the APRL’s daily administrative and library-related tasks as we have in the past,” Tiffney said. “We will be mindful of staggering shifts and to continue to work remotely when prudent while continuing to provide these services.

“Currently we are providing full library service again and welcome those who have used the APRL and its services in the past, while extending an invitation to those who have not used the APRL previously to take the opportunity now to do so.”

Tiffney suggested that Linn’s readers who have questions or comments can contact him at

“If they would like to send in a request to the library, now that we are fully operational again, they can do so at,” he added.

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