EAST LAKE — Lois Eannel, assistant director of the Palm Harbor Library, has been named the new director of the East Lake Community Library.
For Eannel, 65, this means a shorter commute to work from her home in Trinity, as well as a new place to launch her savvy programming. During her 14 years in Palm Harbor, Eannel was lauded for her programs, including Toys and Tools to Go, an adaptive toy collection for special needs children; the Halloween Costume Exchange; and S.T.E.A.M. Kits, an educational collection designed to strengthen students' math and science skills by bringing arts into the mix.
For the patrons of the East Lake Community Library, the appointment means that East Lake is getting a leader "who is a tremendous person,'' said Roger Johnson, a member of the East Lake Library Advisory Board. "She's got great qualifications. She's consumer-oriented, and she has already proven what she can do.''
Eannel replaces Patricia Perez, who handed in her letter of resignation in July after several months of strife with the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, the appointed board that oversees both the East Lake and Palm Harbor libraries and Palm Harbor Recreation.
Eannel's starting salary will be $63,000.
The first order of business for Eannel will be "building relationships,'' she said.
"I don't believe in playing politics,'' she said. "I hope that my reputation, my skills and my experience will help me smooth the road ahead.''
Palm Harbor Library director Gene Coppola served a short stint as interim director at the East Lake library. He said he always knew the day would come when Eannel would be running her own library.
"Lois was the top pick of the East Lake Library Advisory Board," Coppola said. "After Patricia's resignation was accepted, the advisory board moved forward to interview some internal candidates, and they unanimously recommended Lois to the PHCSA board.''
The appointment, approved by PHCSA last week, comes at an interesting time for residents of the unincorporated East Lake community.
On May 21, the Pinellas County Commission approved a library taxing district in East Lake, using the boundaries of the East Lake Tarpon Special Fire Control District.
When East Lake residents received their Truth In Millage (TRIM) notices from Pinellas County last week, they saw that instead of the nearly half-mill tax paid by other residents of unincorporated Pinellas to support libraries countywide, they will now pay only a quarter-mill, or 25 cents for every $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt property value. And the tax will be used only at their community library on East Lake Road.
Coppola believes Eannel's biggest challenge will be determining how to spend the tax dollars.
"I think the budget will be a challenge, and she might learn that the priorities in East Lake may be different from Palm Harbor,'' he said.
Eannel agrees. "It's important to prioritize what needs to be done,'' she said. "Everyone has a wish list, including me, and we have to see what we can do.''
Before she moved to Florida from New York, Eannel served as a children's librarian at the Middle Country Public Library on Long Island.
Her family includes her husband, Thomas Eannel, her daughter and son-in-law, Christine and Ed Osborne, and one grandchild named Katelyn.
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters, or letters may be mailed to the Tampa Bay Times, 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100A, Clearwater, FL 33755.