American Philatelic Society

Union Catalog How To
How to Search the Philatelic Union Catalog

The Philatelic Union Catalog allows you to search the holdings of multiple philatelic libraries simultaneously – or search each library individually. It also allows you to search for journal articles.

Watch a short video tutorial on searching the catalog


Search basics

Less is more when starting a search. You don’t need to fill in all of the boxes on the search screen. Because your search results include only records containing ALL of your terms, the more terms you enter, the fewer results you will get.

If you get too many records from your initial search, then add more terms.

Using alternate spellings and terms

You may need to enter several alternate terms or spellings to find what you are looking for. While the APRL uses a standard list of subject and geographic headings, those used by other libraries or by article indexers may not be the same, and the terms used in titles can vary widely.

Example 1: alternate spellings using truncation

We see both “catalog” and “catalogue” frequently in the philatelic world. To search for records using either spelling, use a truncation character (in this case, the asterisk).

Searching for

will find records containing either “catalog” and “catalogue” (as well as “catalogs” and “cataloging”).

Example 2: alternate spellings without truncation

Truncation will not work in all cases. For example, if you wanted to include both “color” and “colour” in your search, you wouldn’t want to search on “colo*” because it would also return records containing “Colorado”. In cases like this, you can search for records containing at least one of your search terms by combining them with or (indicated by a slash).

Example 3: combining techniques to search for alternate spellings

You can combine the techniques from examples 1 and 2.
Searching for

will find records containing any of “color”, “colors”, “colour”, or “colours”.

Example 4: searching variant terms

There are many concepts in philately that can be referred to in multiple ways. To conduct a thorough search, include any variant terms for your topic, combining them using or (slash).

Narrowing a search

If you are getting too many results from your search, you can add more terms to your search using and (indicated by the ampersand).

Searching for

will find records containing both “Greece” and “Olympics”.

You can combine all of these search techniques. Searching for

will find records containing either “Greece” or “Greek” and “Olympic” or “Olympics”.

Searching for specific types of materials

Use the Record Type box to search for specific types of material, for example “book” or “journal”.

Each library may use different record types in the catalog. For a list of record types used by each library, see individual library descriptions See About the Philatelic Union Catalog.

Searching a specific library

By default, your search will search across all library collections in the catalog. To search a specific library, select its location code from the dropdown box:

To search across all collections again, select “All Libraries and Indexes”:

In order to find articles, select “All Locations”.

Searching for a known item

If you know the title or author of the item you are looking for, use the Advanced Catalog Search and fill in the information you know (title or author). Remember that results must match what you enter exactly (but search is not case sensitive).

If you have only partial information, or are searching on a common title or author and need to narrow your results, you can combine fields:

By default, the terms will be combined using and. When entering an author’s name, use last name first (or last name only).

Interpreting search results

After you click the Submit query button, you will see brief records.

To view more details about an item, click on Full Display.

If you are a member of the APS or APRL, you can request loans, photocopies, or scans (see how to request material) directly from the catalog.

Searching for articles

To find records for individual articles:

  1. Enter “article” in the Record Type box and select “All Locations” from the location drop-down box.
  2. Enter your search terms in the Any Word box, or if you know the author or title use the Advanced Catalog Search. If you want to look for articles in a specific journal, enter the journal title in the Any Word box.

Example 1: searching for articles on a topic in a specific journal

Example 2: searching for articles by a specific author

The article index in the catalog is provided for reference and does not guarantee that the article is available from any of the Philatelic Union Catalog libraries. To find out which libraries have the journal in which the article appears, search on the journal title:


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