FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)


1. Can I access the library's online catalog from home?

Yes. You can access it via the web at www.blackgold.org. You may also place holds, renew items, and check your own library record online, using your library card number and your last name.

2. How can I schedule a tour of the library?

For school or class tours, please call the library at 925-0994 and ask for Children's Services. To schedule other tours, please call 925-0994 and ask for the Library Administration Secretary's Office.

3. What do I need to get a library card?

You need to bring a government issued picture I.D. and something showing your current address (if your I.D. doesn't have it listed.)

4. I live in Arroyo Grande but I work in Santa Maria. Can I still get a card in Santa Maria and check out books there?

Yes, and your library card can be used in all the public libraries in San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County and Blanchard Santa Paula Library because they are all members of a consortium called the Black Gold Cooperative Library System.

5. If I check out items at Santa Maria Public Library, can I return them to another library?

Yes. You may return AND renew Santa Maria Public Library items at any public library in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and also at Blanchard Public Library in Santa Paula. Only rental items and those placed "on hold" by other people may not be renewed.

6. How old does a child have to be to get a library card?

There is no age limit to get a card. However, parents or guardians must sign the application form for children under the age of 18.

7. Sometimes I see an item on the online catalog that is labeled, "Rental." What does that mean?

That is a designation given to best sellers and DVDs which can be rented for $1.50 (per week for books or for three days for DVDs). The rental collection is an on-going fundraiser for the Friends of the Library. These materials are purchased with Friends' funds.

8. I've forgotten when my books are due. How can I find out?

You can access your record of items you have checked out from your home computer using the Library's Catalog or you can call us, or you can check the date due slip we place in every batch of items you check out.

9. Sometimes I visit the library on my lunch hour and don't have time to wait in line to check out my books. How can I avoid the line?

You can use our self checkout machine located in front of the circulation (checkout) desk. You can use this machine if you have only books to check out.

10. Can I access some of the specialized electronic resources your library has such as the Gale Biography Resource, the Electric Library, and Reference USA with my home computer?

Yes, you can access these databases from home using the instructions given on the Library Services page. Be aware however that you will need to have a valid Black Gold library card to do so. Please call the library Information Desk for details. Unfortunately, licensing agreements for the other databases preclude us from allowing access to them remotely (i.e. from outside the library).

11. Does the library offer computers for word processing?

Yes. In the Computer Center we have 29 computers with Microsoft Office 2013 installed (which includes Microsoft Word), as well as additional computer research stations with word-processing capability on the second floor of the library.

12. Do I have to pay anything?

No, use of the Internet machines, the word processors, CD-ROM's, and online electronic databases is free. We do charge 10 cents per page for black and white prints and 50 cents per page for color prints.

13. Can you show me how to use the library catalog?

Reference staff will help you find materials in the computer catalog. If time and staffing permit, reference staff will also give more extensive instruction on an individual, walk-in basis.

14. I'm doing a book report about the library. What is the square footage of the main library? How big is it?

The building is 59,850 square feet. It is nearly 50 feet high, 266 feet long, and 151 feet wide.

15. How many items does your library have?

We have about 167,000 books, 28,000 audio materials, 15,200 electronic audio and eBooks, 17,000 video and DVD materials, and more than 430 magazine and newspaper subscriptions.

16. How does the library staff choose what materials to purchase?

Librarians select materials from professional reviews in journals, and also read magazines and newspapers to find out what is currently popular. Another source is our users who suggest purchases for the library.

17. How do you acquire books that are no longer in print?

A good source for us is the many donations our library receives. Those books the library cannot use are routed to the Friends of the Library who sell them to raise money for the library. 

18. How do view drawings of the new Library? See below: