by Mike Bramwell, Hon NPS Librarian
Observant visitors to the Search Room at the British Postal Museum & Archive will have noticed that the classification labels on the books round the walls change from numerical to alphabetic in the corner of the room near the microfiche viewers. This is where books from the BPMA Library meet items from the NPS Library. In the Search Room are four bays holding our general and specialised stamp catalogues and our books on Great Britain and Commonwealth philately. Work has been going on to reduce the inevitable duplication of the stock belonging to the two libraries held in the Search Room. There is also a bay where we keep over 150 current volumes of philatelic journals in both English and a range of foreign languages. These items can be used by all visitors to the BPMA, although only NPS members can borrow them.
In fact the whole of the NPS Library occupies nearly a quarter of a mile of shelving in two sites, each with two locations. The two libraries are complementary to each other, although both have substantial holdings of books and journals on British philately.
Behind the scenes, in another room in the Mount Pleasant complex we have the remainder of our books, which total more than 7500 and runs of English language journals going back some 20 years shelved in rolling stacks.
The remainder of our material, which is in fact by far the larger part, is stored in our out of town depository near Wokingham. The older journals, both English and foreign language, are kept in what was the Coach House of farm specialising in Race horses. Our material relating to philatelic exhibitions together with extensive holdings of auction catalogues from the major British auction houses and bureau material, i.e. the descriptive leaflets produced by stamp issuing countries which describe new stamps in detail are kept in a barn in the same site.
The library is staffed by volunteers between 11am and 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and we will be pleased to talk to visitors to Freeling House, although that will sometimes require a phone call to the ‘stack room’.