Global Philatelic Library

About The Project

In 2010 the Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL) embarked on an initiative to build the “RPSL Catalogue”, a single database giving details of all of the artefacts that it holds in its headquarters in London. Whilst such a project had been attempted before, there were two new key objectives:

-       to make the information available on the internet

-       to allow all of the disparate types of information to be enquired upon in one query.

This was very successful, but it had one drawback in that it initially only had information pertaining to material held by the Royal. The next step was to invite specialist study circles from all over the world to contribute cumulative indexes to their journals. This has been tremendously successful, with now over 150 titles represented in the Royal’s database; these indexes now have over 440,000 references between them.

The next development came as a result of the Royal joining the Union Catalogue programme. Prior to the Royal joining, this was exclusively an association of North American philatelic libraries. The American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) coordinate this initiative where libraries contribute lists of books and other items held by them into a single database for ease of searching by any philatelist worldwide. It is a reciprocal arrangement with the Union that allows all of this data to be accessed through the single search engine on the Royal’s website.

It became apparent that there are many very significant philatelic libraries all over the world who didn’t participate in the Union; these were approached and the response was most encouraging. It is this wider grouping that is now available to be searched under the umbrella of the Global Philatelic Library. We now have libraries in eight countries already live, with major institutions in at least three other countries currently planning on joining shortly.

Whilst the GPL website has been built and is run by the RPSL, it is a collaboration between the APRL and the Smithsonian. Both of these institutions have much data on their own websites which can be searched independently. Most of this is available through the RPSL search, but for those researchers in North America it is recommended that they browse the Union Catalogue via the APRL website as that opens up book lending opportunities that are not available outside that continent. The Smithsonian has information on its site that has not yet been contributed into the RPSL general database.

The GPL is a constantly developing research tool.

Should you have access to any holding of philatelic data that you are prepared to contribute to the GPL project, please contact me via the ‘Contact button at the top of this page.

Frank Walton RDP FRPSL

Global Philatelic Library