"We’ve been in business for 125 years in the same building. We are one of the longest operating services in the community," said Director Bonnie Estrada. "We’re looking forward to having a lot of people stop by and we’re having free displays of things that have happened in the past and present. It’ll be a fun day."
In addition to the historical displays, cake and refreshments will be available and there will even be a chance to hobnob with Mr. and Mrs. Talcott dressed in period clothing.
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According to Talcott Free Library records, the Public Library Association was organized on July 17, 1875, with only 60 volumes. The original building was built in 1854 and used as a feed and grain store. In 1888, Wait Talcott gave the building to Rockton Township to be used as a township library, provided that the town agreed to organize under the laws of Illinois and vote to establish a tax to support the library. Later, the house and lot next door were deeded to the library to provide income to help defray incidental expenses and increase the funds for the purchase of books.
The library has stood the test of time, riding out the best and worst times of the last century. When citizens went to war, the library pitched in. In 1917, the library donated $50 for the library war service fund and purchased war bonds in 1943. During the Depression in 1932, the library reduced the rent on the house it lets out for income down to $10.
Estrada said that the quaint library’s dedication to service is really what keeps it alive.
"There are advantages to being a little bit smaller than the huge libraries," Estrada said. "We can interact more with our patrons and we have a very good staff who are comfortable working with people and they just enjoy what they are doing."
Rockton residents have watched their local library turn 125 this year, and many hope that it will last another 125. Estrada is always thinking about ways to better the community resource’s reach.
"The most important thing is to find out what the community needs and wants and try to meet those," Estrada said. "It’s not easy to stay afloat because of how fast things change and the costs of staying open. But we just try to keep on top of the changing times and try to serve the community the best we can."
For an institute that has supported the community for as long as the Talcott Free Library, it behooves residents to return the favor -- stopping by today and enjoying a retrospective is a good opportunity to do that.