StampNews.com received info the long-anticipated completion of a new state-of-the-art American Philatelic Research Library is much closer to reality. The APRL Board of Directors on Friday, July 31 approved plans for the library's final construction, which should begin by mid-August.
"The completion of this project will provide secure and appropriate storage for the library’s unique collections and much-needed workspace for our staff, volunteers, and visitors", said APRL librarian Tara Murray.
The Centre Region Planning Agency in July gave final approval to the $2.1 million final phase of the library project. The cost of the entire APRL project is about $3.5 million. A good portion of the final phase is being funded via a $1.3 million gift from Walter Weber of Bellingham, Washington, who passed away in May 2014. It was the largest gift ever received by the APS.
The American Philatelic Research Library is considered one of the world's most valuable assets in the hobby of philately. The library holds more than 23,000 book titles, and 6,000 journal titles, on its nearly three miles of shelving. More than 30,000 society members are invited to utilize the library's services, either on-site or from long distance, and the library is open to the public.
"Not only will the new library provide visitors in Bellefonte a more flexible and comfortable space to browse and research, but it will also allow our staff and volunteers to provide better library services to researchers around the world and to carry out digitization, preservation, and indexing projects", Murray noted.
The new library will take up the bulk of space in the upcoming renovation and construction of 19,500 square feet. The new space will bring together all functions, collections and resources of the APRL, which has been scattered throughout the American Philatelic Center since moving there in 2004.
The new library includes a secure separate rare book room; space-saving compact shelving; public access computers and Wi-Fi throughout; reading lounges; a space for map and large-document storage; a donation-processing room; climate-controlled storage areas; study carrels with lockable storage; and a group study area. It also will include adjoining restrooms, an elevator to offer handicapped accessibility, and a used book and gift shop.
About $1.4 million in prior construction beginning in 2010 ‒ including a new floor, roof, windows, stairwells and structural support ‒ has been completed in the library's new space.
Veronesi Building and Remodeling Inc. of State College, Pa. is the general contractor on the final phase of the library project.
Overall, the center includes 18 adjacent buildings on about 6 acres of land and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The APS and the library moved from nearby State College into the American Philatelic Center in May 2004. Since purchasing the property ‒ which was an active match factory from 1899 to 1947 ‒ in 2002, the APS has already completed $13.5 million in renovations to the property.
The APS was founded in 1886. The APRL was incorporated in 1968 as serves as the library and archives for the APS. Both are non-profit educational organizations.