By Marianne Mueller


Behind Talcott Free Library’s operations is a volunteer Board of Directors who each serve a four-year term, unless they have been appointed to fill out a specific term.  Seven members who are elected by the public bring a unique vision to the table and works alongside Talcott Library Director, Megan Gove. 

Board President Gary Kovanda has been on the library board for 12 years; and is starting his fourth term.

“I chose to remain on the board in order to see the expansion project completed,” Kovanda said. 

Kovanda first came on the board in May of 2009 shortly after the substantial bequest from the estate of William Keefer, which was designated for expansion.”

“I also decided to stay on the board because I feel that it is important to provide volunteer services to the Rockton community.”

“My vision for the library is that even when it is expanded and modernized it will continue to be the friendly, small town library that it has always been; just in an upgraded structure. While the building project expands the space and modernizes the interior; our library is exceptional because our staff is so friendly and welcoming and our patrons appreciate them. The board appreciates them too.

“Although there are no official records of the State of Illinois, I believe that the original building on the corner first used as the Talcott Free Library is the oldest building in Illinois to house a public library. 

It was built in 1854 and has been referred to as “The Grainery” by board members and others since that is what the Talcott family used it for. When the board first began discussing either expanding their present location with its known limitations or relocating to a new site, it didn’t take us long to decide to remain where we were so we could continue to utilize that historic building to be an anchor in downtown Rockton,” Kovanda said. 

Kovanda also serves as the Chairman of the Village of Rockton Zoning Board of Appeals, a member of Winnebago County Local Emergency Planning Committee, and Chairman of Deacons Outreach Board of the United Church of Beloit. 

Alicia Ragaller is the Vice President of the board.  Ragaller has served on the board for four years; starting with an appointed term and is now halfway through her second elected four year. 

Ragaller moved to Rockton seven years ago. “I wanted to volunteer my time to make the community that I live in and am raising a family in to be as diverse and inclusive for many people,” Ragaller said. 

“I think all people deserve resources and opportunities to assist in many aspects of their lives. I want to help be a voice for those people.”

 “I see the library as the jewel of downtown. For me the library was very important in my teenage years. It gave me resources when my immigrant parents did not have the means for a tutor or to help me with my education. It was also the place I would meet friends to socialize and to meet for clubs. I want to see people valuing Talcott Free Library as a safe place for community and growth.”

Ragaller is a 36-year -Latina from San Antonio but spent middle school through high school in Rockford. She is a 2010 Graduate of SIU Carbondale and works as a Sr. SEO Specialist for a tech education company in Schaumburg.  

Outside of the library board Ragaller has been involved the PP Feminine hygiene drive, and other various organizations that assist Biopic communities with resources for health and education.

Loren Floto first served on the board for four years back in the 1980s, and ran again in 2019 to finish a two-year unexpired term at the suggestion of our former librarian Bonnie Estrada. He is currently the board Secretary. 

“I’m returning for another term because I love our library and want to support it by helping to make good decisions about its management.  I believe it is a vital part of our community, helping to make it a nurturing place for all our residents, young and adult. I have worked in other countries that do not have a tradition of active public libraries, and I believe that their ability to educate and support informed citizens suffers because they lack libraries,” Floto said. ”

“I have also read about libraries having to close in other parts of the U.S. due to lack of funding, and I want to make sure that never happens here.

In the years to come, I am confident that Talcott Free Library, with its newly expanded facilities and continued good management, will always be a vital heart of our community assisting with lifelong learning for everyone.”

If a board member moves out of the district, they must step down from the board. 

“As a retired teacher, I know the importance of access to reading, both for pleasure and for information.  I am glad to be able to support our library as a board member,” Floto said.

Floto also volunteers as a visiting reader at his former school in Rockford, and I do volunteer work for Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful.  In most years, Floto has helped organize, and has Co-Chaired the annual Rock River Sweep to clean up our river.

Terrie Garlow serves as Treasurer of the Talcott Library Board and has been a member for two terms; a total of four years. 

“I have chosen to continue to be on the board as I feel it is a great way to serve the community, and the library is a wonderful asset to have, “Garlow said. 

“My vision would be for the library to continue to advance its free programs it offers to the community and to continue to offer wide and diverse opportunities that are current with the changing demands of our world.”

Garlow is also involved in the Rockton Lions Club, is a member of Hononegah Woman’s Club and is on the Milestone Human Rights committee. 

She also worked on the Talcott referendum committee. 

 Aimee Floto is a newly elected board member in 2021.

“The Talcott Free Library was an integral part of my growth and development as a child here in Rockton. It was (and still is) one of my favorite places to go. My love of reading and learning were bolstered by having such an amazing resource nearby. I want to serve the library and my community the way it has served me,” Floto said.

“My vision for the Talcott Free Library moving forward is that it continues to provide valuable and relevant resources to our community both young and old alike, fostering a love of reading, knowledge and curiosity.”

Floto is also involved with the Rockton Township Historical Society and Rockton Remembers.

Dan Garlow has been on the Talcott Library board for two and half years of a four year term. 

“Instead of being elected to the board I was appointed; they had a vacancy and I thought I would fill it until the next election and someone else could have the seat. Garlow said. “After being on the board for six months and working with the other board members I realized that it was a great group of people who care about the library and want nothing but the best for it. I wanted to be a part of that so I ran in the next election.”

“This is a unique opportunity to give back to the community who supported the library during the expansion. Without the public and their generosity the library wouldn’t have been able to expand or to provide facilities for public use.”

“I like being on the board, and I want to help secure the future of the library, “Garlow said. 

Bob Geddeis is a new member who is filling a position that was left open after the last election.

“I joined the board after I had a long career working for Greenlee Textron as their Director of International Sales,” Geddeis said. “Although I’ve lived in rural Rockton for over twenty years about 50-60 percent of my time was spent traveling around the world establishing distributorship and promoting the Greenlee product line.  Due to this extensive travel schedule I really did not have the time to become involved in the Rockton community.  Once I retired I felt that I had time and also; given my interest in education and encouraging people to continue learning, that I could bring that to bear in contributing to the community. The opportunity to join that Talcott board fulfilled that desire.”

“Talcott Library plays a very important role in the Rockton Community.  It is housed in an iconic and historical building in the very heart of Rockton and it serves as a magnet for those who have a love of reading and learning is it dropping in to peruse the daily newspaper to conducting extensive research or introducing our young people to the love of reading and learning.”

The role of the Talcott board is fiduciary in nature and acts as an oversight on the business operations of the library thus ensuring the financial contributions of the taxpayers are managed in a responsible and fiscally sound manner.  My vision for the library in to ensure that the library remain fiscally sound and that it meets the learning and recreational needs of the community,” Geddeis said. 

Geddeis is currently filling the remainder of a vacant position and will be for two years after which he hopes to run for the full four year term.”

Geddeis is a strong proponent of classical education and learning and believes that developing a love of reading in our youth can open a whole world of eye popping experiences and leads to an expanding one’s learning as a lifelong experience.

He is currently serving his fourth term as a member of the Hononegah High School Board of Education; Geddeis also serves on the Board of Directors of the statewide Illinois Association of School Boards.

There are no term limits for board members to serve. In past years some have given up to 30 or 40 years of community service. 

“I have had terrific board members since day one of becoming Director in 2015,” Talcott Library Director Megan Gove said. 

“As trustees change, so do the dynamics of the board as a group. It’s great to both keep trustees on for several terms for their experience, and to get new trustees that bring new and different ideas to the table. I’ve appreciated that no matter the make-up of the board, they all put their trust in my experience to run the library.”

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