Open Journal Systems

World Libraries | Volume 20 | Issue 2 | Nawlakhe and Hirwade

Study of Worldwide Philatelic Libraries
Ujwala Anil Nawlakhe and Mangala Anil Hirwade

Abstract

Philatelic libraries act as the research and educational arm of philatelic societies, catering to the needs of philatelists about a nation’s postal heritage, and as easy sources of philatelic information. The treasures found within these libraries are helpful in solving philatelic mysteries. This study evaluates twenty–one notable philatelic libraries worldwide for their location, establishment, collection coverage, authority details, facilities, and service details. These philatelic libraries — as information centers in the form of special libraries — are unique for their collections, users, services, queries, and information processing, and function as “art, culture, and heritage preservation sites” as well.

1. Introduction

Postage stamps — these small pieces of colourful paper are government documents, and though they are basically used as tokens for payment of postal taxes, they carry “mail and message” (Greenwald, 2011) due to their illustrated nature. Stamps fulfill the service of communication through message transport, with easy dissemination reaching a wider population. Messages are structured effectively integrating artistic elements, semiotic elements and visual elements on stamp. They represent their country through the people, places and culture depicted on their surface. In the work “Stamps as an Information Source in the National Library of Turkey”, Hakan (2006) describes them as

like any other non–book source of information such as banknotes, coins and maps, stamps also illustrate the social, commercial, political, cultural, historical and artistic aspects of a society in their own unique style. They use short and abstract text, colour graphics and symbols on a limited surface area. Its content is the key attribute that differentiates stamp from other non–book material; for this unique attribute, the stamp can be deemed both, as a “communication tool and a work of art”.

Philately involves the study of postage stamps and other postal history related items. Philatelic activities and researchers often need information that is catered to by the philatelic literature as information sources. The organizational development of philately resulted from an increased flow of information products, varied information sources, and philatelic literature. Along with the printed philatelic literature such as stamp catalogues, books, journals, bibliography, gray literature, archival files, and background material, their digital versions as well as websites, blogs, databases, etc. are found akin to philatelic information communication/sharing activities.

2. Review of Literature

A library is an institution that collects, organizes, preserves, cares for and makes available collections of literary and artistic material for reference, study and research. It is a “place in which literary and artistic materials are kept for reading, reference, or lending” (Free Dictionary, 2012). A philatelic library concerns itself with philatelic literature, and includes most notably postage stamps and other philatelic items.

Cultural institutions collect, organize, and share cultural information to preserve local heritage. As one of the “cultural institutions that collect the memory of the past, knowledge of the present, and legacy of the future of a local community”, the philatelic library has a significant role “to preserve the local culture in a way that simply makes the library itself into a home for local culture” (Sutantro, 2012).

Philatelic libraries are often referred as the research and educational arm of the philatelic societies. It is the place for finding information or carrying out research about stamp collecting — philately, “the reputed hobby with the largest quantity of literature” (Wunderly, 2012). This information then is used to promote new directions for philatelic activities.

In 1996, the International Philatelic Libraries Association (IPLA) was formed during Capex ’96, the world philatelic exhibition in Toronto, Canada. It became an unprecedented example of philatelic library cooperation among the representatives from twenty–five philatelic libraries in Canada, France, England, Germany, Finland, Cyprus, South Africa and others. This organization remains active, with every continent represented. It has been an extremely helpful means of communication. All the IPLA members are in the profession of sharing information, with deep knowledge of their country’s philatelic literature and a willingness to help one another.

Another example of philatelic libraries’ co–operation is found in the form of Global Philatelic Library (GPL), an umbrella organization consisting of libraries in five countries, along with major institutions in at least three other countries. Frank Walton, Fellow, Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL) and Project Manager, GPL, stated, “The GPL is a constantly developing research tool. So far in 2012, there has been a new set of data added every week”.

The GPL Web site was built and is run by the RPSL; it is a collaboration between the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (NPM) (Global Philatelic Library, 2012).

GPL maintain the catalogues of APRL, RPSL and NPM. The Philatelic Union Catalog, with over 300,000 records, is hosted by APRL, and allows searching the holdings of multiple philatelic libraries simultaneously. The RPSL catalogue has 750,000 records and the NPM catalogue has 40,000, all of which are available to search independently (Global Philatelic Library, 2012).

The public library has a crucial role in engaging all excluded groups into the community because it has the advantage of being local and having a vast number of users. It has frequent and direct contact with the community. As a result, no other public service is better positioned than the public library to cultivate a social inclusion environment (Man, 2007).

The implementation of a “union online catalogue containing the holdings of multiple philatelic libraries” (Nix. 2009) across the nation, was under discussion and in progress with its need to implement some kind of electronic communication system among the philatelic libraries. This would allow the sharing of information among those who have an interest or responsibility for these libraries. In the updated version, these resources, and the facility provided by GPL, make easier retrieval and access of philatelic information.

A doctoral study by Nawlakhe (2012) traced philatelic developments by evaluating the philatelic organizations, libraries, and literature. This study reveals that developments in the twentieth century show the creation of worldwide philatelic organizations such as national and international organizations, libraries, museums, archives, and the philatelic literature thereof. As the important evolutionary step in philately, the twenty–first century marks information technology applications to the field. This impact of IT was the main reason to consider Web sites for data collection of these libraries during the present study.

Through the present analytical study, an attempt is made to address some of the aspects of libraries such as the holdings, services and facilities of the selected worldwide philatelic libraries.

3. Methodology

The descriptive, investigative and evaluative type of research methodology and the survey research technique were used, aimed at identifying, selecting and deciding upon the domains for data collection. The present work was restricted to only twenty–one notable and selective philatelic libraries whose collection consisted mostly of postage stamps. The philatelic libraries were selected through the Google cluster that appears after keyword searching. After the critical analysis of data, findings were discussed in line with the objectives of study.

4. Objectives of Study

This work is subjected to the following aims and objectives:

  • To check the location and establishment details of philatelic libraries
  • To know the authority and affiliation of philatelic libraries
  • To find out the collection coverage, services, and activities of philatelic libraries
  • To analyze the types of periodical publications and catalogues along with their availability in philatelic libraries

5. Observations, Analysis and Interpretations

Table 1 provides details about the name, abbreviation used, and location of philatelic libraries. It is noted from this table that out of the twenty–one philatelic libraries, 52% are situated in different regions of the USA, and two libraries are located in each of England, Germany, and Canada. The remaining four libraries (KNBF, NPL, PPL and RPSNZ) are from the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

Table 1: Details about Location of Philatelic Libraries.
Sr. No.TitleAbbreviation AssignedLocation
01British Library Philatelic CollectionsBLPCLondon, England
02KNBF BondsbibliotheekKNBFBaarn, Netherlands
03Munich Philatelic LibraryMPLMunich, Germany
04Northwest Philatelic LibraryNPLOregon, USA
05Philatelic Library Hamburg eVPLHeVHamburg, Germany
06Rocky Mountain Philatelic LibraryRMPLColorado. USA
07San Diego County Philatelic LibrarySDCPLCalifornia, USA
08American Philatelic Research LibraryAPRLPhiladelphia, USA
09Wineburgh Philatelic Research LibraryWPRLTexas, USA
10Western Philatelic LibraryWPLCalifornia, USA
11Collectors Club of ChicagoCCCLIllinois, USA
12Club of New York LibraryCNYLNew York, USA
13Scandinavian Collectors ClubSCCColorado, USA
14Philas Philatelic LibraryPPLNew South Wales, Australia
15UTMB Library Philatelic CollectionUTMBPCTexas, USA
16Royal Philatelic Society of CanadaRPSCHalifax, Canada
17Royal Philatelic Society of New ZealandRPSNZWellington, NZ
18Royal Philatelic Society LondonRPSLLondon, England
19Railway Mail Service Library Inc.RMSLVirginia, USA
20Slusser Memorial Philatelic LibrarySMPLArizona, USA
21The Harry Sutherland Philatelic LibraryHSPLOntario, Canada

 

The establishment dates of philatelic libraries are reported in Table 2, along with the mission and aims behind the library’s foundation. It is observed from Table 2 that the nineteenth century is noteworthy for the beginning and rapid increase in the foundation of philatelic libraries; RPSL was the first, established in 1869 with the general aim to contributing to the advancement of the science and practice of philately. Five libraries — namely BLPC, CNYL, RPSC, RPSNZ and RPSL — were established in the nineteenth century after the silver jubilee celebration of “Penny Black”, the first stamp, which was issued by Britain on May 6, 1840. The general mission of these libraries is to serve philatelists, to preserve and manage the collections, to perform philately promotional activities, and to provide research facilities.

 

Table 2: Details about the Establishment and Mission of Philatelic Libraries.
LibraryEstablishmentMission
BLPC1891Preserving and managing national philatelic and general collection of the United Kingdom
KNBF1945Detect and expose philatelic forgeries and frauds, and inform stamp dealers and philatelic associations about them
MPLNAPromoting philately and postal history in Europe
NPL2003Serving as a specialty and research library to the philatelic community of the Pacific Northwest and to a broader public
PLHeV1970To serve as a philately association cum clubs activities
RMPL1993Promoting and helping to facilitate the pursuit of stamp collecting as a hobby at all levels
SDCPL1970Providing stamp research and information
APRL1968As a research and educational arm of the APS
WPRL1976Working as a regional resource for philatelic and postal history
WPL1969Enhancing the preservation and dissemination of philatelic knowledge in a globally networked community
CCCLNATo serve as a philatelic resource library
CNYL1896As a working library, promote philately and provide a social, educational, and non–commercial setting for the interested
SCC1935, 1942, 1959Work to promote appreciation of the postage stamps and postal history of Scandinavia, philatelic research and education
PPL1971To promote the hobby; to encourage prospective and new stamp collectors; to support and encourage youth philately
UTMBPCNARaising awareness of health care organizations, programs, and discoveries in biomedical sciences, through philately
RPSC1887To serve as Canada’s national society for philatelists
RPSNZ1888Serving as a premium international society of NZ, promoting stamp/postal history and publication, detecting philatelic forgeries
RPSL1869Promoting, encouraging, and contributing to the advancement of the science and practice of philately
RMSL2003Assisting in operations of the Railway Mail Service/Postal Transportation Service (RMS/PTS)
SMPL1996To provide resource for students, educators, historians, and researchers with the primary function of “public service”
HSPL1995, 2006Serving the philatelic community with publications and services, to promote research in philately and postal history

 

The twentieth century records the vigorous establishment of 52% of philatelic libraries, distributed decade–wise as one each (SCC and KNBF) in fourth and fifth decades, four libraries in seventh decade, two (PPL and WPRL) in the eighth decade, and three in the last decade of the century. The philatelic library establishments in 1945 and 1988 show an aim to detect and expose philatelic forgeries and frauds. The establishment details of MPL, CCPL and UTMBPC are not available on their respective Web sites. The SCC was founded in 1935 as the Stamp Club; in 1942, the club changed its name to the Scandinavian Collectors Club of New York, and in 1959, it was further renamed as SCC. In 2006, the Harry Sutherland Philatelic Library was officially named after the Philatelic Research Foundation, established in 1975. Two libraries (NPL, RMSL) mark the twenty–first century with more specialized missions, to serve as specialty and research libraries to the philatelic community, and to assist in operational services.

Table 3 provides contact information for librarians in philatelic libraries with their name and e–mail addresses. It can be seen that for thirteen librarians, the organization Web sites provide both their names and e–mail addresses.

 

Table 3: Contact Details of Librarians.
Library AbbreviationName of the LibrarianContact/e–mail id
BLPCDavid BeechPhilatelic@bl.uk
KNBFMarijke van der Meerbibliotheek@knbf.nl
MPLRobert Binnerstb.phil.kult@muenchen.de
NPLNAnwpl@qwestoffice.net
PLHeVNAauskunft@philatelistische-bibliothek.de
RMPLEllengail Beuthelrmpl@qwestoffice.net
SDCPLNAlibrarian@sandiegophilateliclibrary.org
APRLTara Murraystamps.org/Contact.aspx?Id=26andReturnTo=59
WPRLLarry Sallimpat.allen1@utdallas.edu
WPLNAstulev@ix.netcom.com
CCCLEd Waterousewwaterous@hotmail.com
CNYLNAcollectorsclub@verizon.net
SCCNApalbright@wiche.edu
PPLNorman J. Sheppardimpa@brusden-white.com.au
UTMBPCNAref@utmb.edu
RPSCMarilyn Melansonmlmelanson@ns.sympatico.ca
RPSNZAdam Millerrpsnz@orcon.net.nz
RPSLDavid Springbettexperts@rpsl.Organizationuk
RMSLFrank R. Scheerfscheer@railwaymailservicelibrary.org
SMPLCharlotte Cushmanccushman.phf@mindspring.com
HSPLNAvggfoundation@on.aibn.com

 

Table 4 presents authority and affiliation details of philatelic libraries. It is noted from this table that 43% of the libraries are independent; and seven libraries are working under the authority of their parent associations. The University of Texas Medical Branch manages the UTMBPC library under its authority, while SDCPL has the council and HSPL has the foundation as each of their authorities. Two libraries, namely CCCL and CNYL, are handled by their club members.

From the affiliation point of view, it is noted from the Table 4 that seven libraries have an affiliation as “daughter organization” (working under the authority of their parent association), five are affiliated to themselves, UTMBPC library has an affiliation as a branch organization, CCCL has affiliation with a philatelic Web site ‘AskPhil’, NPL is part of the main society, and WPRL is the home of an affiliated association, while RPSC is member of FIP, FIAF.

 

Table 4: Details about Authority of Philatelic Libraries.
Library AbbreviationAuthorityAffiliation
BLPCBritish Philatelic LibraryItself
KNBFKNBF — Netherlands Federation of Philatelists AssociationsDaughter organization
MPLGerman Philatelic AssociationDaughter organization
NPLSeparate legal entity in its own rightPart of the Oregon Stamp Society
PLHeVHamburg — Altona Association
(Philately association cum clubs)
Daughter organization
RMPLPrivately funded public library, charitable organization and a non–profit corporationNational Scandinavian Collectors Club library
SDCPLNot–for–profit philatelic library, supervised by the San Diego Philatelic CouncilDaughter organization
APRLA public library, non–profit institution of American Philatelic SocietyDaughter organization
WPRLWineburgh Philatelic Research Libraryhome of the Texas Philatelic Association
WPLWestern Philatelic LibraryItself
CCCLCollectors Club of ChicagoPhilatelic Web site AskPhil (http://www.askphil.org/)
CNYLA group of more than 750 peopleItself
SCCNon–profit philatelic societyAPS, RPSC
PPLNon–profit, multicultural associationOver 50 stamp clubs and societies in NSW
UTMBPCThe University of Texas Medical BranchBranch organization
RPSCCanada’s national societyMember of FIP, FIAF
RPSNZRoyal Philatelic Society of New ZealandItself
RPSLThe Philatelic Society, LondonItself
RMSLAmerican RPO Society LibraryDaughter organization
SMPLSlusser Memorial Philatelic LibraryItself
HSPLVincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research FoundationDaughter organization

 

Collection coverage of philatelic libraries is reported in Table 5. The libraries incorporate different types of philatelic literature in print, electronic, and other media. These include books, monographs, periodicals, documentation volumes, CDs and DVDs, with other special collections of post office guides, circulars, histories and reports, stamp newspapers, etc.

 

Table 5: Collection Coverage of Philatelic Libraries.
LibraryResource Coverage
BLPCNational philatelic collections and about 50 important archival collections of the United Kingdom, over eight million items from almost all countries and periods, postage stamps, over 30,000 volumes of philatelic literature
KNBFOver 10,000 items including books, journals and monographs and other types of philatelic literature on Dutch philately; strengths also in German, French and British literature and other documentation
MPLApproximately 51,000 media units, holds 48,000 monographs, 246 German and 265 current foreign periodicals, foreign auction catalogs for philatelic and postal history of Germany, philatelic literature in 43 languages
NPLOver 3,000 books, 200 philatelic journals, and price catalogues of the Pacific Northwest
PLHeVBooks, stamps and magazines and journals in German and foreign languages
RMPLMaterials related to Scandinavian philately; periodicals, videotapes, CDs and DVDs; a very special collection of approximately 1,500 books; the western history and railroad collection, with a collection of maps and atlases
SDCPLOver 6,600 volumes of philatelic publications, books, catalogues, monographs and ancillary items, philatelic reference books, 400 stamp catalogues, 1,850 auction catalogues, 3,600 books, 400 monographs, 350 periodicals, etc.
APRLPhilately’s classic periodicals, catalogues, government documents, auction catalogues, more than 400 current periodicals from around the world
WPRLCoverage for the United States, Mexico, U.K., Western Europe, and the British Commonwealth, as well as South America philatelic literature; more than 18,000 books and journals, official archive, catalogs, etc.
WPLPrinted, electronic and other media; books and monographs on stamp collecting, postal history, postal operations and topical collecting; 13,000 books and pamphlets, 4,000 bound volumes of journals, etc.
CCCLComplete addresses and contact data for philatelic libraries and thematic societies, stamp dealers, experts and expertising committees; specialty philatelic glossary with more than 30,000 terms, etc.
CNYLMore than 150,000 volumes, rare pieces in philatelic literature, thousands of philatelic publications, historical periodicals, stamp/auction catalogues
SCCHundreds of philatelic books, catalogs, articles, journals, copies of exhibits, audio–visual programs, and miscellaneous literature related to Scandinavia
PPLCollections of Australian, New Zealand and Pacific philately; over 6,000 books; Australian, world, Pacific journals and catalogues, magazines, post office guides, circulars, histories and reports, stamp newspapers
UTMBPCNearly 100,000 postage stamps and related items, such as first day covers, artist’s proofs, souvenir sheets and postal cards, important resources for studying health care, its historic development and social ramifications
RPSCOnline library is a collection of “Exhibits” and ”research articles“ donated to RPSC
RPSNZPhilatelic literature and a reference collection of New Zealand
RPSLThousands of philatelic works, handbooks, monographs, journals, periodicals, bibliographies, indexes of exhibition material, etc.
RMSLMaterials pertaining to en route distribution history with obsolete postal artifacts, major book published and periodical articles about RMS/PTS
SMPLOver 30,000 books, journals, catalogs, photos, maps, reference items related to the philatelic history of United States, especially the Western states, U.S. postal history, U.S. postal service publications and hundreds of journals
HSPLA comprehensive library resource for postal and philatelic research and study

 

All libraries made available their philatelic literature for research and study purposes. RPSL maintains research material including articles, personal research notes, copies of collections and displays, etc. Two libraries, namely BPLC and WPRL, have archival collections. Four libraries have international philatelic literature coverage, while the remaining 81% have country–oriented national and/or thematic collections. MPL maintains philatelic literature in forty–three languages. Two libraries, namely the British Library and Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library, are repositories of philatelic literature. BPLC is the outcome of the legal deposit office of the British Library.

The services and activities of philatelic libraries are reported in Table 6. Apart from the essential and routine services, these libraries actively provide special services. Promotional activities are undertaken for the benefit of philatelic researchers. It is observed from Table 6 that the libraries provide expertise service, assistance from specialists, and advisory services for research, while activities include conducting lecture programs, exhibitions, displays and competitions, and publishing philatelic and postal history research work.

 

Table 6: Services by Philatelic Libraries.
LibraryServices and Activities
BLPCPhotographic services, an e–journals and voluntary deposit scheme for off–line electronic and microform publications, philatelic collection exhibition
KNBFFederal inspection service, guidance on philately courses, coaching novice exhibitors “workshop” course, philatelic training classes
MPLPhotocopy service, a microfilm reader, international interlibrary loan and direct loan by mail, philately promotional activities
NPLAssistance from specialists; advisory services for research, writing projects or exhibits; seminars to broad audience groups
PLHeVPhilatelic literature services
RMPLPromote and help to facilitate the pursuit of stamp collecting at all levels
SDCPLSpreading information and raising awareness about stamp and philately news
APRLServes APS as well as APRL members, provide market and price information for stamps, publishes news from the APRL
WPRLProvide research facilities, displays, stamp collection exhibits
WPLInterlibrary loans; supporting, extending and enriching and access of resources; collaboration and cooperation with other libraries and philatelic groups; public educational events; exhibitions and displays
CCCLService to expertise in work, provides information on philatelic resources, conduct research on philatelic products
CNYLFosters philatelic scholarship; acquiring, organizing, disseminating philatelic information to members, philatelic community and general public
SCCJournal archives, services dedicated to promotion of Scandinavian philately
PPLCreate opportunities for existing stamp collectors to advance their skills; provide support for the affiliated clubs and societies
UTMBPCProvides research facilities
RPSCSlide program library service to member clubs, online set of exhibitions
RPSNZEdit and publish books, papers or journals on philately; promote and conduct philatelic exhibitions and extension activities for the benefit of philately
RPSLOffer and award prizes, medals or other recognition in connection with such exhibitions or for any literary work connected with philately
RMSLAs an archival library, assist research inquiries, organize and file the collection, as well as preservation of materials
SMPLMaking electronic card catalogue and creating electronic records of the library’s collection, working on union catalog with APRL and RMPL
HSPLExpertise service; conduct lecture programmes, exhibitions, displays and competitions; publish philatelic and postal history research work

 

Types of periodical publications of philatelic libraries, and other unpublished documents, are presented in Table 7. It is noted from Table 7 that sixteen libraries out of the twenty–one have their own periodical publications. Newsletters are published regularly by 33% of the libraries, for announcing philatelic and library news. PLHeV is the only one that publishes a magazine.

 

Table 7: Details about Publications of Philatelic Libraries.
Library AbbreviationPublication/sOther Documents
BLPCNewsletterNo
KNBFNewsletterDocumentation volumes
MPLNewsletterOn file and online index by author, title and philatelic terms, philatelic articles
NPLNewsletterPrinted and online indexes
PLHeVMagazinesNo
RMPLPeriodicalsIndex of maps and atlases
SDCPLNewsletterNo
APRLJournal (quarterly)Indexes and bibliographies, reviews of current philatelic literature
WPRLNoneNo
WPLJournal (bimonthly)No
CCCLBookA series of six pamphlets on a variety of philatelic products, philatelic glossary
CNYLBooks, Catalogs, Bimonthly periodicalNo
SCCNewsletter, e–journal (quarterly), philatelic book reviewsJournal archive, and library index listing articles, books, references
PPLNewsletters, Journal (quarterly)No
UTMBPCNoNo
RPSCJournal (bimonthly)Index of journal
RPSNZPhilatelic books, papers, journalsPhilatelic exhibition volumes
RPSLPeriodical (Ten times a year)Bibliographies, indexes, research material
RMSLBooks about RMS/PTSPhilatelic exhibition volumes
SMPLNewsletterReference items (such as glossaries)
HSPLPhilatelic, postal history researchNo

 

Nine libraries publish their own philatelic journals — at different intervals — for disseminating the recent philatelic research, while HSPL publishes research works on philately and postal history. Four libraries publish philatelic books, while SCC is the only that publishes philatelic book reviews. WPRL and UTMBPC do not have any publications or documentation volumes. Twelve libraries out of twenty–one (57%), documented their collection in the form of indexes, bibliography, glossary, reference items, etc. Seven philatelic libraries prepare indexes of their collections, APRL and RPSL made bibliographies. APRL also reviews the current philatelic literature, while SCC is the only one with an archive of journals.

The types and availability of library catalogues — the user–friendly resource–retrieving tool — in philatelic libraries is reported in Table 8.

 

Table 8: Details about Publications of Philatelic Libraries.
Library AbbreviationLibrary Catalogues
BLPCOnline, integrated catalogue
KNBFOnline, Stamp catalogues and Auction catalogues, Articles catalogues
MPLOnline, Computer catalog, Latest stamps, Journals and Auction catalogues
NPLOnline, Price and electronic card catalog
PLHeVLibrary catalogue in CD–ROM and Printed, Exhibition catalogues
RMPLAuction catalogs, Show catalogs, Computer catalogue
SDCPLOnline catalogue, Stamp catalogues, Auction catalogues
APRLComputerized card catalogue online
WPRLNot found
WPLElectronic card catalog, Stamp and Auction catalogues
CCCLNot found
CNYLOnline Stamp catalogues
SCCOnline catalogue
PPLAuction and Price catalogues, Exhibition catalogues
UTMBPCNot found
RPSCNot found
RPSNZAuction catalogues, general world catalogues
RPSLAuction sale catalogues, Stamp catalogues
RMSLGeneral resource catalogues
SMPLOnline catalogue
HSPLOnline catalogue

 

The eighteen philatelic libraries, i.e., 86%, maintain the catalogue of their resources. Out of these eighteen, 48% have OPAC facility for library resource use everywhere. BPLC is the only one maintaining an integrated catalogue; six libraries have stamp catalogues, eight have auction catalogues, and two, namely PLHeV and PPL, have exhibition catalogues. MPL, NPL, RMPL, APRL and WPL maintain electronic card catalogs.

6. Conclusion

The Internet is a real boon for postage stamp collectors, allowing them to add to their knowledge of the hobby, purchase stamps with ease, and connect with others. The Internet has propelled the hobby to great heights and reached a Golden Age with a flood of philatelic literature in the form of Web sites and databases. The advent of information and communication technology has added innovations and stability to philatelic development, and also to the scope of philately. The Internet has made basic stamp expertizing easy, fast, and cheap.

Philatelic libraries worldwide are now on the Internet through their Web sites, making the public aware about the holdings, services, and facilities they provide, along with related information through philatelic literature. This is praiseworthy and noticeable for philatelists and researchers in the field to know more about philatelic happenings.

Philately libraries, through their online presence on Web sites, ensure wider accessibility of philatelic literature at any time, any place, and to anyone. The high quality scanned images of stamps, stamp description details, reference, and assistance services enable the proliferation of the hobby.

The philatelic libraries have locations in different regions worldwide. The nineteenth century is creditable for the birth and rapid growth of philatelic libraries, while the twentieth century records the full–swing establishment of 52% of the philatelic libraries. With their general missions of serving philatelists, preserving and managing collections, performing philately promotional activities, and providing research facilities, the philatelic libraries in the twenty–first century now mark their more specialized mission to serve as special research libraries.

The evaluated philatelic libraries incorporate philatelic literature in print, electronic, and other media forms, with specialized collections of post office guides, circulars, histories and reports, stamp newspaper, etc. All libraries make available their philatelic literature for research and study purposes. Apart from the essential and routine services, these libraries actively provide special services: providing expertise service, assistance from specialists, and advisory services for research.

The promotional activities of philatelic libraries include conducting lecture programs, exhibitions, displays and competitions, and publishing philatelic and postal history research work. Out of the total libraries evaluated, 76% of the philatelic libraries publish their own philatelic periodicals; 57% documented their collection in the form of indexes, bibliography, glossary, and reference items; and 86% maintain catalogues of their resources.

In order to preserve the chronicle of postage stamps as postal heritage or historical documents of national origin, digitization projects hosted on library Web sites pave the way with high–quality scans and identification details, in line with an initiative of creating “digital libraries” for preserving art, culture and heritage.

The treasures found in these libraries can be helpful in solving philatelic mysteries. Philatelic libraries aim to help philatelists with the greatest possible access to the information that will help them in their pursuits. An additional aspect of these libraries is their close connection with the field of information and documentation. These are an extraordinarily lively, active, flexible fields, with a sense of responsibility to their parent organizations, users, and for the overall worldwide philatelic community.

Philatelic libraries serve as specialized libraries for the philatelic community, and are proven to be important centers for philatelic research work. Having a diverse range of material, general reference material, maps, newspapers and official publications related to philately, these philatelic libraries are unique as information centers where their collection, users, services, queries and information processing are concerned, and are functioning as “art, culture and heritage preserving sites.”

The prospective union online catalogue would allow the sharing of information on topics of interest among those who have an interest in these libraries. Global Philatelic Library, with facilities that provide electronic access to global information resources, is the newest addition encouraging development in this regard to the philatelic world. GPL is exploring and exploiting the potential of virtual worlds that information professionals, philatelists and interested users can use to facilitate learning, through the grouping of philatelic art, culture and heritage preserving sites.

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the constant help of Anil Nawlakhe, Assistant Professor, J. M. Patel College, Bhandara, Maharashtra, India, for his valuable personal contribution and suggestions during this piece of work.

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About the authors

Mrs. Ujwala Anil Nawlakhe is a research student in the Department of Library and Information Science, Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Nagpur, India. She submitted her Ph.D. thesis in July 2012 on the “Study of postage stamps as an information source: Origin, Evolution and Development of philately with Library and Information Science Projections”, under the guidance of Dr. Mangala Hirwade. She is a life member of SALIS, SIS, IASLIC, ISCA and NCSC. She is associated with science popularization, and has published both nationally and internationally.

Dr. (Mrs.) Mangala Anil Hirwade is Assistant Professor and Research Guide at the Department of Library and Information Science, RTM Nagpur University, Nagpur, India. She is a recipient of the P. V. Verghese Award for Best Paper published in the ILA (Indian Library Association) Bulletin in 2002. She is associated with two UNESCO projects as content writer, and has completed one Minor Research Project sponsored by UGC (University Grants Commission). She is a life member of professional organizations viz., ILA, IATLIS, SALIS, VLA, NUCLA, and LISAA.

© 2013 Ujwala Anil Nawlakhe and Mangala Anil Hirwade. All Rights Reserved.



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