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APRL board of trustees hold online meeting March 22

APRL board of trustees hold online meeting March 22

The board of trustees of the American Philatelic Research Library held a meeting March 22 via the Zoom online platform.

Scott English, executive director of the American Philatelic Society, started the meeting with a presentation that touched on various aspects of APS operations at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pa. The center reopened in April 2021 after a prolonged closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The society’s sales division, expertizing service, library, and stamp and cover shop are fully operational, English said.

Masks are now optional in the American Philatelic Center, but no group tours are allowed at present.

Next, English provided a review of financial highlights from 2021 (total revenue, operating expenses, etc.) that show the APS is on a sound financial footing.

He noted that the American Philatelic Center is currently at 50 percent capacity for its rented spaces.

“We have interest in our space, but still expect 12 months to reduce vacancy significantly,” English said.

Investment fund balances grew by $387,000 during 2017-21. However, since December 2021, the balances dropped by $112,000.

Donation fund balances are on the rebound, following significant withdrawals to reduce the society’s debt.

English then gave an overview of efforts to modernize the APS website, which was lauPostage Stampsnched in 2009.

The goals of these efforts include increasing website traffic to 1 million annual visitors within three years, improving the user experience for APS members and improving data and financial management for the APS staff.

Website improvements in 2018 and 2020 increased web traffic from 15,000 users per month to 45,000 per month.

But, English said, that growth “brought increased scrutiny and penalties from search engines,” which resulted in drops for search impressions (from 1.6 million per month to 650,000 per month) and web traffic (from 45,000 per month to 40,000 per month).

Other areas to address include making the website more seamless with additional services that are offered and making online transactions less complicated, meaning reducing the number of clicks.

As an example, English noted that one in seven visitors abandon the Join Now page without completing the process.

Also essential is making website maintenance and updates easier for the APS staff, English said, noting that HTML (coding) skills should not be required.

English said the new website build was launched in late October 2021, with a target completion date of June 2022.

“As of now, we are on target,” he said.

He also spoke about the continued efforts to improve and expand the holdings of the Robert A. Mason Digital Library. Three goals were outlined: expand research and knowledge through access, increase the value of membership, and improve preservation and space management.

In his presentation, Scott Tiffney, director of information services for the APS, provided additional details and performance metrics for the APRL.

Library requests thus far in 2022 stand at 183 per month, down from 206 per month in 2021, Tiffney said.

A total of 459 items have been added to the library’s collection so far in 2022, representing a 1.6 percent rate of growth, he said.

Tiffney reviewed the library’s shelf capacity, noting that public space for books on the first floor is at 67 percent capacity. Public space for journals on the second floor is at 76 percent, and the closed stacks for auction catalogs on the first floor are at 66 percent capacity.

An annual subscription to the Philatelic Literature Review, the official publication of the APRL, increased by $3 during the first quarter of this year, Tiffney said. Subscribers in the United States now pay $21 instead of $18, Canadian subscribers $26 instead of $23, and international subscribers $33 instead of $30.

The number of subscribers has risen each year since 2019 and now stands at 1,701, an increase of 39 since the start of the year.

Processing of the massive donation from the library of Herb Trenchard continues, Tiffney said, with seven of the 24 pallets of material processed thus far.

For the Mason digital library, permissions are in place to digitize 51 journals, 13 books and 305 exhibits.

The target goals are 25 journal issues uploaded per week and 100 issues upload per month. Tiffney reported that 39 issues are being uploaded each week, for a total of 156 issues per month.

Tiffney concluded with some of the digital library’s performance numbers for 2021: 10,084 total access events, 2,713 access events from unique users, 783 users who accessed the library for the first time, 5,612 download events, and 3,474 print events.

English then put forward three motions, all of which passed.

The first involved combining the library’s Founders’ and Patrons’ Fund with the Endowment/Vooys Fund into one APRL Endowment Fund.

Both funds “are endowments providing up to 4 percent annually to the APRL General Operating Fund,” English told Forever Stamp Store’s Stamp News.

“There is no change in designation for donors who are Founders, Patrons or Vooys Fellows,” he said.

The second motion called for renaming the Harrison (Bookbinding) Fund to the Harrison Fund, “with up to 4 percent going to ongoing digitization efforts,” English said.

“The funds have only been used for bookbinding, which is less than $700 annually, if at all,” he said.

“Horace Harrison intended for the funds to be used for either publishing indices of journals or for the general welfare of the APRL. The funds remain an endowment and the Board can redesignate how the funds are spent at any time,” English said.

The third and final motion proposed designating the second floor of the library in honor of J.C.M. “Jimmie” and Corita Cryer.

“In 1980, a fund was established to honor Jimmie Cryer by providing the Cryer Award every two years for outstanding philatelic research,” English said.

“The APRL discontinued the award in 2001 and ultimately spent the funds for the David Straight Memorial Philatelic Union Catalog. Since the funds were donor restricted, the APRL Board voted [at the March 22 meeting] to honor the Cryers with the designation.”

The APS board of trustees will conduct a meeting April 21 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Hotel, site of the April 22-24 Westpex stamp show in Burlingame, Calif.

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