Philatelic society library threatened by leaks

The outside of the American Philatelic Society in Bellefonte in 2006.
The outside of the American Philatelic Society in Bellefonte in 2006. File

Mailmen aren’t supposed to be bothered by rain. Stamped letters still move around despite the weather.

Rare books about stamps, however, can have problems with it. Just ask the American Philatelic Society.

According to a Friday release, the society’s research library had serious problems after a wet weekend.

The society blamed the construction of its new $2.6 million library. On Monday, staff discovered a leak at the Bellefonte building in the newly finished George Turner Rare Book Room, which houses “some of the hardest-to-find philatelic literature in world.”

According to the society, “Quick action by the library staff, with assistance from Penn State University Libraries, minimized the long-term damage to books and other material.”

Materials were removed from the area, coverings were put in place and repairs to the damaged roof begun.

“Construction and renovation can be risky times for libraries,” the society said in the release.

“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 librarian Tara Murray.

Sue Kellerman, head of the Penn State University Libraries preservation department, came with some of her staff to lend a hand, as well as lend some fans to help dry out the soggy situation faster. Five books were taken to Penn State to be vacuum freeze-dried, and the rest of the material was dried by the library staff.

“(It) could have been much worse,” said Murray, “The quick action of the construction crew, staff and volunteers, along with the response from Penn State University Libraries helped to minimize damage.”

This is not the first time a Centre County library has been foiled by flooding.

In 2015, Schlow Centre Region Library was briefly closed as it dealt with a frozen sprinkler pipe that burst. Schlow was not as lucky as the philatelic society, losing more than 1,000 books to its water issue.

The release said the library will be trying to replace unsalvageable auction catalogs with donations. For a list of the catalogs lost and information about donating replacement copies, see

The new library should be open for visitors by early summer. A grand opening is set for Oct. 29.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce