After 24 years as head of the much-beloved Homer Township Public Library District, Executive Director Sheree Kozel-La Ha will retire on March 29, 2024.
“Serving my home community, where I raised my family, has been my honor and joy. It has truly been a privilege to lead this exceptional Library,” notes Kozel-La Ha. “Homer Library has the winning combination of a supportive and intelligent Board of Trustees, a dedicated Management Team, talented staff, and a community that values life-long learning and education. Our Library is well positioned for continued future success to meet the evolving educational, recreational, and social needs of our community.”
“Sheree has been a mission focused leader, dedicated to the Homer community” said Library Board President Eileen McCaffrey. “She has been a tremendous asset, focused on quality service to our residents. Sheree’s longstanding commitment to excellence is the foundation on which we continue forward.” McCaffrey continues, “In her more than 45-year career, Sheree distinguished herself as a library leader early on, with an eye toward delivering key services that advance civic well-being and connection. While Sheree will be greatly missed, we wish her grand adventures in her future.”
Kozel-La Ha is pleased with the appointment of new Executive Director, Alexandra Annen. “When I announced my retirement, the Library Board chose Alexandra, as she demonstrates a continuation of the leadership the board was seeking. Alex will bring her proven track record with Homer Library forward in a great way,” said Kozel-La Ha.
During her Homer tenure, Kozel-La Ha initiated two building expansion projects that more than doubled the size of the current building, which has grown to 28,000sf. The most recent expansion was completed this past year. Kozel-La Ha’s budget expertise includes each project being self-funded. “This is a vibrant, educated community and we simply added the space to best serve our residents” said Kozel-La Ha, who brought a defined vision when hired in 2000. “Love for how a library can impact lives and a desire to build something amazing in Homer was key for me,” Kozel-La Ha notes. In 2015, Homer Library eliminated overdue fines for patrons, established a Micro Pantry, and initiated several Little Free Libraries in town. McCaffrey notes, “Sheree wrote the grant for the Library Bookmobile as the result of her desire for an outreach bus serving Homer. And she is coordinating a new Bookmobile this year.”
Kozel-La Ha includes networking and grant writing as key priorities. A recognized grant expert, she has successfully written and been awarded more than 100 grants funding several million dollars for additional library and community services. Under her leadership, Homer Library was awarded the Business of the Year award in 2006 from the Chamber of Commerce. She’s served in many leadership roles, including the Homer Twp. Chamber of Commerce President, current Gleaner IL State President, and offers her time and skill set to other local organizations. Prior to Homer, Kozel-La Ha led the Suburban Library System Consulting Department, providing support to over 100 libraries.
Of her retirement plans, Kozel-La Ha says, “it’s an exciting future, including a move to beautiful South Dakota, which I consider my happy place. I will miss wonderful friends, staff, and trustees who are all part of my extended library family. I thank my Homer community for always supporting our first-class library!”
McCaffrey notes that the library has planned a special “Magic & Music @ Homer Library” March 16th event at 11am in celebration of Sheree and to introduce Alex. It will offer both a magic show and dueling pianos. “It’s the perfect opportunity to say, enjoy your future Sheree and hello to Alex, the new Director! Please join us!”