Monday, September 16, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 28

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 13th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 2 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 2

Santa Maria Public Library now accepting passport applications


After more than six months of preparation, the Santa Maria Public Library officially began accepting passport applications on March 11.

The move, which took months of planning, staff training, and a lengthy verification process through the U.S. State Department, was made in an effort to provide Santa Maria residents with additional space and time to apply for a passport, according to librarian Joanne Britton.

Not everyone can leave work to make the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours held by the post office, Britton said, so library staff will be available to take passport applications at different times: from 3 to 7 p.m. on Mondays, noon to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

It's already gaining traction, Britton said.

"We already have next Monday completely booked," she said on March 12, the day after the library launched the program.

Staff took nearly 20 calls regarding passport applications the first day, she said, and it's expected to get more popular as word spreads.

The library is only processing passport applications, not renewals, and applications are processed on an appointment basis. Britton said library staff are working to develop an appointment scheduling website, but until then, appointments can be made by calling (805) 925-0994, ext. 8563.

Library staff have been mulling over this idea since last summer, Britton said, when they discovered that passport processing is a service many libraries across the nation provide.

The library briefly considered putting a passport certification facility in the lobby, where the Friends of the Santa Maria Public Library once managed a used bookstore. The Friends vacated the space after a legal disagreement with the library and city, but the passport certification facility idea was nixed when the library opened its own used bookstore in the emptied lobby space due to public demand in August 2018.

The library then decided it would do passports on an appointment basis to prevent overcrowding and to maintain privacy, Director Mary Housel said in a previous interview with the Sun.

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