The Talcott Free Library staff was recognized for always giving outstanding service to patrons.

By Marianne Mueller

Talcott Free Library is a long time staple in the Rockton community. On Wednesday, Nov. 10 a long awaited Grand Reopening celebration welcomed everyone to see a completed expansion project; one that now allows more options for library patrons.

Talcott Library Board President Gary Kovanda opened by saying, “This project began in 2009 after William Keefer bequeathed one half million dollars to the library for expansion. The board worked continuously on it, although sometimes at a snail’s pace. Many of us wondered if we would ever get it done.”

“We wanted to remain downtown, even with the space limitations here, and I believe the expansion wonderfully enhances the library’s appearance” Kovanda added.

Kovanda Thanked Engberg-Anderson and especially architect Alexandra Ramsey for creating this design, which blends in with the original building on the corner. I also want to thank the voters in the library district for your confidence in us by passing the referendum. Without you, this would not have been possible.”

Talcott Free library was built in 1854. “We have expanded the space and modernized the inside, continuing to utilize the Grainery building which we believe is the oldest building in Illinois housing a public library,” Kovanda said.

On behalf of the library board Kovanda extended a tremendous debt of gratitude to Director, Megan Gove.

“We did not realize how vital a construction manager is for even a small project like this, and we foisted that role upon her. It was time consuming, frustrating, and stressful, but she undertook the task competently and thoroughly. I cannot think of anyone who would have done a better job for us, and, on behalf of the board, I thank you, Megan, for all your hard work and diligence.”

Kovanda thanked everyone for joining in the celebration. “I hope you enjoy this, your library, in the years ahead.”

Gove thanked Kovanda for his remarks and everyone for attending before giving details on the project.

“This building addition and renovation has given us multiple new study rooms, a larger room for programs, better more accessible restrooms, and a great new space for teens and their collection; not to mention the all-new flooring, lighting, ceilings and paint!”

One of the new meeting rooms honors William and Gayle Keefer whose contributions to the library hold great meaning beyond financial giving . Mrs. Keefer spent over 50 years serving on the Talcott Library Board in various capacities. The William and Gayle Keefer room is one of a few new meeting rooms which came with the expansion. Meeting rooms can be reserved by calling the library.

Both Gove and Kovanda gave special thanks to the staff. “They worked through 15 months of construction with numerous reorganizations and disruptions; all with good humor and grace. Anyone who has worked through a construction project can tell you that they are no easy feat; especially for more than a year,” Gove said.

Kovanda echoed Gove’s sentiments and added, while there are many changes inside, one important thing remains the same, and that is our staff,” Kovanda said.

“They worked construction, often in difficult circumstances, yet remained cheerful and accommodating to our patrons. It is not these improvements but our friendly and competent staff which will keep the Talcott Free Library the excellent library that it is. “

“We want to thank Paul Humphries and Jon Daucher at Larson & Larson Construction for heading up this complicated project. I truly appreciated their support and understanding as I basically became a construction manager of a $2 million project with no experience overnight,” Gove said.”

“There are always complications when it comes to renovating existing structures and this building made up of multiple additions over a 60 year period was no expectation. Also a big thanks to Dan Forbes from Speer Financial, Kyle Harding of Chapman & Cutler, and Dan Mowers and Bonnie Gundry at First National Bank & Trust for helping us with the debt certificates and all the legalities that came along with them for the financing of for this project.

“Most of all we want to thank the community of Rockton again for supporting us at the polls, which truly enable us to update and to add to this historic library! Serving the community is what we are here to do and we couldn’t be more excited for how this project turned out,” Gove said.

Three different drawings allowed patrons to enter to win brand new books and book bags. Door prizes were cookies in the shape of Talcott Free Library and bottle openers with the photo of Talcott Library on them.

All current serving Talcott Library Board members were recognized. Former board members were recognized including Nina Herzer, and Ray and Alice Rice who were in attendance. Ray Herzer was also recognized for serving on a former board.  Former Talcott Library Director Bonnie Estrada was on hand to celebrate.

With these new renovations and building expansion more services and programs such as Adopt a Book, youth teen and adult programs, and book sales, can now be added in addition to many popular favorites that occur year round.

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