ROCKTON—Construction is well underway at Talcott Free Library, 101 E. Main St., with an opening date set for May, according to Library Director Megan Gove.

“Witnessing all the changes while we are here everyday is exciting. We know that the next phases will be more difficult to live through because of more interior work, but it will definitely be worth it in the end,” Gove said.

On Aug. 6, ground broke on an expansion and modernization plan for the library following voters approving a referendum in 2019 to help finance the $2 million project. Those with Larson & Larson Builders out of Loves Park will build out the library to 11,797 square-feet from 10,242 square-feet. The renovation plan will add multiple quiet study rooms; a larger programming space; more accessible restrooms and new spaces for teens. Infrastructure improvements including a fire prevention sprinkler system along with updates to flooring, ceilings and light fixtures as well as additional outlets to meet technology needs will be part of the plan.

The groundbreaking marked phase 1 of construction. As of Wednesday, crews were working on the front of the building which has been removed. Due to construction people are entering through the temporary emergency exit in back. Workers have mostly completed the rear addition which will be the future home of the kids’ new playroom, and have already started some interior which will be the new programming space.

Gove said work is a few days behind schedule because crews found an internet line and some piping needing attention.

The major renovations, Phase 2 of the interior work, will begin after the new year. Phase 2 will include construction on the new restrooms and the kids’ department.

Gove said foot traffic at the library has been a bit slow due to COVID-19 and safety considerations. The library is currently open to the public as well as offering curbside services. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.—5:30 p.m.; Mondays 9 a.m.—8 p.m.; and Saturdays 9 a.m.—3 p.m.

The schedule has been amended to provide more time for cleaning and sanitation and the fewer patrons due to the pandemic. Gove said those at the library appreciate the strong adherence to the library’s pandemic rules of masks over the nose and mouth in the library and social distancing.