“The response has been amazing,” said Ron Eifert, library director and one of the passport acceptance agents, “so much more than we ever expected.”
The initial idea to become a passport acceptance facility came from a neighboring library which had achieved great success with the service. After three months of training and testing during the first three months of 2017, the library was certified as a passport acceptance facility and processed its first passport in late April 2017.
Since its certification, the library has processed almost 200 applications for passports over the past 12 months.
When the library first started processing passports, the staff saw it as a service for the Sikeston community. They quickly realized that the appeal was much wider. “We have processed passports for residents of five or six surrounding counties,” Eifert said. “So many people from around the area work in Sikeston, or attend school here, and they find it easier to complete the application process here than anywhere else.”
“It’s been interesting, listening to the stories people tell about the travel plans,” Eifert said. “We have helped people prepare for mission trips and family trips. It’s been fun to help people apply for a passport so that they can go on a trip that was a gift or a prize.”
Libraries have begun the transition from books-only facilities, to facilities where programming and other services are available. “Passport acceptance is part of our efforts to keep the library vital to the people in our community,” Eifert said. “It has been satisfying for us to know that we have helped people with this service, and to hear them say that the process was a lot less difficult than they expected.”
There are two passport acceptance agents at the library, and the service is available for 33 hours each week. Acceptance times are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10 am-noon and 1-5 pm; Tuesday, 10 am-noon and 1-7:30 pm; and Friday, 10 am-noon and 1-5:30 pm. The library usually has one weekend a month where a passport acceptance agent is available. Additional hours are available by appointment.
For more information about the passport acceptance process, please call the library at 471-4140, or visit the library’s website at sikeston.lib.mo.us. For application forms, information on documentation required, fees, and a wealth of other passport and international travel information, visit the only official website for passport information at travel.state.gov.