Leaky roof threatens APS Library holdings

The roof of the American Philatelic Center – headquarters of the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) and American Philatelic Society (APS) – recently sprung a leak during construction of a new $2.6-million building.

A particularly “rainy weekend” caused water to leak into the recently completed George Turner Rare Book Room, threatening some of the “hardest-to-find philatelic literature in world,” said representatives from the APRL.

“The bright side is this was a one-time incident related to construction and not an ongoing problem. Once the construction is complete, we expect the new library will be the safest home for our holdings ever,” said APRL Librarian Tara Murray, who added library staff took quick action to minimize the long-term damage to books and other material. “The situation could have been much worse.”

The leak was discovered on the morning of March 14, after which library staff removed material from the area, put protective covering in place and began initial repairs to the damage caused by construction, said Murray.

Sue Kellerman, head of the Penn State University (PSU) Libraries Preservation Department, was also called for some expert help, which included lending the APRL equipment, such as fans to circulate air and hygrometers to measure humidity.

Murray said if the “emergency conservation measures” are effective, the costs to the APRL will be minor and “related to treatment of rare books.” All of the rare books and archival material were saved; five books were taken to PSU to be vacuum freeze-dried, and the rest of the material was dried by the library staff. Quickly drying items is necessary to eliminate the risk of mold, which can infect an entire collection.

Murray said the library will attempt to replace unsalvageable auction catalogs through donations. For a list of the catalogues lost and information about donating, click here.

The new 19,000-square-foot library should be open for visitors by early summer and a grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 29. Attendees to this summer’s World Stamp Show in New York City can get an early look at the new library by attending a virtual tour on June 2 at 11 a.m.

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