You’ve Got Mail

One of America’s oldest institutions, the U.S. Postal Service, is teetering on the edge of default and must be radically restructured. That, according to the postmaster general, who spoke on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

The mail service Americans have known for generations is losing billions of dollars a year, as handwritten communication has all but disappeared –  replaced by emails, text messages, and social-media –  and billing and other commercial transactions are increasingly conducted over the Internet.

The Postal Service is seeking congressional authorization to cut costs and curtail services, including eliminating hundreds of thousands of postal jobs, changing health care and retirement programs for postal workers, consolidating post offices, and ending Saturday mail delivery across the country.

The changing technological landscape has left the regular mail service, what many Americans now refer to as “snail mail,” in dire financial straits. U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“The Postal Service requires radical changes to its business model if it to remain viable into the future,” added Donahoe.  “The Postal Service is in a crisis today because it operates with a restricted business model. As a self-financing entity that depends on the sale of postage for its revenues, the Postal Service requires the ability to operate more as a business does.”

Change is needed, according to the committee’s chairman, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.  “We must act quickly to prevent a Postal Service collapse, and enact a bold plan to secure its future,” said Lieberman.  “The U.S. Postal Service is not an 18th Century relic. It is a great 21st Century national asset. But times are changing rapidly now, and so too must the Postal Service if it is to survive.”

It remains the preferred means to send greeting cards, wedding invitations, and other personalized or formal communication, as well as magazines and other periodicals and printed advertisements. Despite reduced mail flow, the Postal Service continues to deliver more than half a billion pieces of mail a day.   ( From Voice of America, online blog)

No more mail?  No more stamps?  Big changes are coming….and maybe sooner, rather than later.  See selected items below, pertaining to the US Postal Service.

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An American History Album : the Story of the United States Told Through Stamps by Michael Worek and Jordan Worek

 The United States has celebrated its achievements, honored its heroes and recorded its history by issuing beautiful commemorative postage stamps. These stamps tell us about the discovery and settlement of the land; advances in transportation and communication; the wonders of the American wilderness; and the accomplishments of political, military and civic leaders who served the republic and shaped its future. Created by the United States Post Office to honor significant events and important people, these stamps offer us a unique and proud look at America’s history.  Look at the stories behind these miniature works of art-why they were issued and who or what they honor. Created by some of the best artists and finest engravers of their day, these stamps fashion a visual portrait of the history, values and accomplishments of the United States.   (Firefly Books Ltd.)

Scott 2011 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue by James E. Koetzel, editor

 The Scott Catalogue of Postage Stamps is published yearly by Scott Publishing Company, a subsidiary of Amos Press.  This annual lists all the stamps of the entire world, which its editors recognize as issued for postal purposes.  An invaluable resource for stamp collectors and philatelic societies.  (Wikipedia)

Post Office Jobs : Explore and Find Jobs, Prepare for the 473 Postal Exam, and Locate All Job Opportunities by Dennis V. Damp

 Discusses the job positions, postal exams, pay, applications and resumes, interview process, and related civil service positions for those interested in a postal service career.    (Baker and Taylor)

The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps / United States Postal Service

 An official guide to the U.S. stamp program and its history features coverage of nearly 4,000 stamps, providing Scott catalog numbers, dates of issue, a rundown of the current year’s commemorative stamp program, and advice on how to start and maintain a personal collection.   (Baker & Taylor)

 

 Let’s Visit the Post Office by Marianne Johnston

 A simple introduction to the United States Postal Service, how the work is accomplished, and the impact the Post Office has on local communities.  (Baker & Taylor)

  

The Error World : An Affair with Stamps by Simon Garfield

 “Few other endeavors, save perhaps litigation, find themselves so preoccupied with mistakes as the world of philately. Garfield admits to a burning obsession with the collecting of stamps contracted at a very young age. Attributing his passion in some measure to his upbringing, he recounts his family history: scion of a middle-class Jewish family in postwar London challenged by the early deaths of both parents. Garfield began his collection, as many youths do, with a simple album displaying stamps from each of the world s nations. His interest blossoming, he eventually graduated to pricey auctions and to the company of distinguished dealers. Garfield s hobby ultimately consumed him to the point where his wife sought divorce. Non-adepts in philately will learn much about defective perforations, missing colors, inferior printing, and all the various production blunders that make errors on stamps so intriguing and valuable to collectors.”    (Booklist)

  

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

 Just when you think you’ve read every possible take on World War II, along comes a story like The Postmistress. Though the effects of that worldwide conflict permeate every page of Sarah Blake’s second novel, she takes on the war from a different angle: the home front. Set in 1940, just before the U.S. entered the war, The Postmistress is a subtle, nuanced portrayal of the impact war has on three women: Frankie, a British journalist covering the Blitz; Emma, a newlywed whose doctor husband brings her back to his New England hometown; and Iris, aka the postmistress. These three very different women are ultimately connected by a letter that brings an unwelcome truth back to their small town—and by the shared hardships of a world forever changed by conflict.   (Bookpage)

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