Librarian for Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures Penn State
Special library collections can be of interest beyond their intended audience of researchers. However, the level of access provided to the public varies greatly. These libraries, which include corporate, museum, and association libraries, employ a wide variety of organizational structures and staffing models that affect who can access these collections. Philatelic libraries—libraries dedicated to stamp collecting and postal history—provide a promising case study for investigating how the development of non-profit special library structures and practices influence the level of public access to collections. This poster provides a visual guide to the models employed by philatelic libraries in North America and examples of their unique collections. For each model, it provides answers to questions about access to their specialized collections. Does the library restrict access to outside researchers? Are the library’s catalog and finding aids openly searchable? Does the library have relationships with other libraries and participate in interlibrary loan? The findings will shed light on the diversity of special libraries and how they relate to their better-known public and academic counterparts.