The Library History Buff

Promoting the appreciation, enjoyment, and preservation of library history



 Postal Librariana

Library History

Postal Librariana

What is postal librariana?

    a. The name of a band

    b. Librarians who have gone postal

    c. A librarian who delivers the mail

    d. See below

Postal librariana is a term which I use to describe postal artifacts related to libraries and librarianship.  Postal librariana is a specialized area of collecting under the broader heading of librariana.  Postal librariana is also a sub-theme of bibliophilately which includes collecting postage stamps and covers with book, printing, reading, writers, and other sub-themes in addition to libraries.

The postal artifacts which I include in my definition of postal librariana are: postage stamps and items related to the issue of postage stamps; envelopes and the predecessors of envelopes which are commonly called "covers" by philatelists; postal cards (pre-stamped cards issued by the government postal service); postcards which have been sent through the mail and which contain a library message (a postage stamp must be added by the sender); and letters or the contents of envelopes/covers that have been sent through the mail. 

Postage stamps

Postal librariana includes postage stamps that have a connection to libraries and library people. These stamps include those that depict the exterior and interior of actual library buildings as well as stamps that show generic library interiors.  The library interiors are sometimes shown with generic library users and sometimes they feature a prominent individual in a library or with books as a backdrop. There are many buildings that have a broader use but also include a library.  I normally do not include these buildings unless the library which it contains is a prominent library in its own right. An example of this is the U.S. Capitol which contained the Library of Congress for many years. I use the term "library people" because I include stamps of library supporters such as Andrew Carnegie. Also included are postage stamps that were issued to honor or commemorate a library or group of libraries even though they do not depict a library or library person. I include postage stamps that have a connection to archives and archivists.  I do not include postage stamps that have books, printing, reading, or writers as their primary focus.  There are, of course, exceptions to these guidelines, and they are not binding on other collectors in anyway.


Envelopes and their predecessors are commonly referred to by philatelists as covers.  There are two broad categories of covers. One includes commercial covers which have been sent through the regular mail and the other includes covers which have been created as souvenirs or collectibles (sometimes referred to as philatelic covers). These two broad categories, in turn, include several different types of covers. Starting in 2007 I have featured a library cover each month on the home page for this website under the heading "Library Cover Stories".  Archive for 2007 Library Cover Stories Archive for 2008 Library Cover Stories.

Library Envelopes Sent Through the Mail

The commercial covers that I find most interesting are those that have been sent through the mail to or from libraries and thus represent examples of both postal history and library history. 

       Folded Letters

        Local Covers

        Pre-stamped Stationery

        Advertising Covers

        Advertising Covers - Civic

        Censored Covers

        Free Frank Covers

        Metered Covers

Souvenir Covers

        First Day Covers

        Special Event Covers and Pictorial Cancellations

Postal cards

Postal cards are different from picture postcards in that they are issued by the governmental postal service and they are pre-stamped with a stamp printed on the card. 

Picture postcards

Although I collect a variety of library postcards, I only consider those that have gone through the mail and which have a library related message to be examples of postal librariana. 


Usually the covers or envelopes that I collect through philatelic sources do not contain letters or other contents.  However, some do, and these show the purpose of the communication.  I also have some letters related to libraries that have been separated from the envelope.  I consider these to be postal librariana since they have usually been sent through the mail at some point.

Collateral items

I collect other paper artifacts related to libraries that are not postal in nature.  These include some items that have revenue stamps affixed to them.  Revenue stamps like postage stamps represent pre-payment of a fee, and there are a number of people who collect these stamps.  Cinderellas are stamp-like paper artifacts that are not legal as postage.  I have a few Cinderellas that have a library theme or connection. 


I have created several philatelic exhibits which display selected items in my postal librariana collection. 

Links to other pages on "The Library History Buff" Web site which contain examples of postal librariana.

Postage Stamps

Postal Cards


A Public Library Stamp

Philatelic Exhibits

Cover Stories 2007

Library People on Postage Stamps

Postal Librariana - UW Parkside Presentation

Cover Stories 2008

US Library People on Stamps

Traveling Libraries

Pictorial Cancellations

World Library People on Stamps

Philatelic Libraries

National Library Week

US Libraries on Stamps

NY Mercantile Libary

A Nation of Readers

Carnegie Libraries on Stamps

Library Company of Philadelphia

Civic Advertising Covers

Archives and Archivists

Peterborough Town Library

First Day Covers


Benjamin Franklin Stevens

Advertising Covers

Picture Postcards

University of Algiers Library

Library of Congress Exhibit

Library, Pennsylvania

Libraries of Louvain

APRL Trustee Election

Overdue Notices

Hiram E. Deats, Philatelic Bibliophile





 Postal Librariana

Library History

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Last updated: 6-02-13    2005-2013 Larry T. Nix
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