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Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Library begins passport services for first-time applicants

Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Central Library has quietly begun accepting first-time passport applications on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

The office opened to little fanfare in January but has since drawn dozens of visitors. Enoch Pratt officials initiated the process of becoming a Passport Acceptance Facility after learning that other library systems around the state were offering similar services.

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“As a library, access is our game,” said spokeswoman Meghan McCorkell. “People may be here researching where they want to go, so we’re just adding the next step.”

Officials also hope that passport processing fees will supplement the library’s budget after fines on overdue books and other materials were eliminated in 2018, said passport program manager Chelsea Shockley.

The library charges a $35 processing fee per application and $15 for color passport photos. The fees do not include those charged by the State Department.

One of the advantages of the library’s passport office is that it is open seven days a week, unlike most U.S. post offices with passport acceptance services. While the library cannot process renewal applications, visitors can get a passport photo taken at the central library and find the necessary forms to mail to the State Department themselves.

Despite the passport office’s “soft launch," library officials were surprised to watch about 40 to 50 people take advantage of the service in January, McCorkell said.

“We were not expecting so many people,” Shockley said, adding that the staff already processed their first passport application for a baby.

The passport office is tucked on the central library’s third floor. The walls are still blank white, but a table stacked with a several children’s books offers families a place to hang out while they wait for assistance.

“And they have five levels of books to look through while they wait,” McCorkell said.

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The office is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The office is also open by appointment only on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. To make an appointment, call 410-396-5460 or email passports@prattlibrary.org.

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