World’s largest philatelic library opens doors in Bellefonte

Put a stamp on it.

The $4 million American Philatelic Research Library is finally open.

The world’s largest philatelic library’s new home at The Match Factory off Willowbank Street is bigger and better than its predecessor, according to the American Philatelic Society. The size has increased 60 percent to be 19,000 square feet. It recently opened to the public.

Upgrades include the ability of APRL to store its fragile items in adjacent closed stack areas, “employing space-saving compact shelving and map and rare book rooms.” There will be Wi-Fi in the building, exhibits, show programs, a reading lounge, conference table, children’s area and a loft-style second floor.

The library boasts philatelic literature — about postage stamps and postal history — dating back to the 1860s.

“Stamps tell many stories and have preserved all that we are as a nation,” American Philatelic Society Executive Director Scott English said. “This library is home to many of those important stories and now, more than ever before, can make it accessible to collectors and the public.”

The APRL will host a grand opening Oct. 28-29 with a dinner scheduled for the first night.

Though the building will be celebrated, its construction could have irreparably damaged some of its most rare literature in March. That is when a leak was discovered by staff in the George Turner Rare Book Room.

Damage to the books was limited, because staff removed the materials from the room.

Tickets for the grand opening are available at

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli