Talcott Free Library expansion finally completed
For the past year, Talcott Free Library on Main Street in Rockton has struggled to stay open while going through a major expansion. It’s been a long and bumpy road, but the project is finally nearing completion.
In 1888, the Honorable Wait A. Talcott, who lived in Rockton, donated a building he owned at 1101 E. Main St in Rockton Township. Talcott wanted to make sure the building would be used as a library. The donation was made with the provision that the town would organize and vote to establish a tax to support the library.
The iconic building has served residents well for many years, but community growth and the need for additional space has increased.
In 2019, the library asked residents to support a 2.8 percent tax increase to fund a $2 million expansion that would meet the needs of the community by adding space and much needed improvements.
Rockton voters showed their support by passing the referendum. Shortly after, Larson & Larson were named as General Contractors. Work began in May, 2020, as did fundraising efforts.
In addition to improving infrastructure, the expansion was to include study rooms, a programing area, and a separate space for teens.
Other improvements were to update furniture, floors, ceilings, light fixtures, fire extinguishers, accessible rest rooms, and computers.
A $500,000 contribution, bequeathed by Rockton resident William Keefer in 2008, helped to get the project started. Keefer was specific in stating the funds were to be used for the library expansion.
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Megan Gore came on board as library director six years ago. She has helped guide the expansion progress through COVID -19, and a shortage of workers and supplies.
Gove and her staff worked out options to keep the library open throughout the construction period.
“We had hoped everything would be finished by now, but because of delays, work got behind schedule.”
Because of the pandemic and construction obstacles, the library doors were not open to members for several months. Requests and distribution of books and tapes were made through curbside service.
Patrons are now welcome to come by and see the “new Talcott.”
Stylish and functional furniture, tables, and new shelving are scattered throughout. Visitors can see new carpeting, an expanded collection area, three study rooms, a new teen space, a program space, new copy machine and additional computers and desks.
Although there are a few projects yet to complete, Gove said they are hoping to hold a grand opening in early September.