FOSEL Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 4, to Feature New Board, Update on Next Phase of Library Battle before City Council

The outgoing board of the Friends of the South End Library (FOSEL) will vote in a new board at the group's Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 4. The meeting will be held at 6:30 PM at the South End Library. The public is cordially invited. Seven nominees from different neighborhoods in the South End have agreed to form the second FOSEL board since 2008, when the organization became a 501C3 charitable organization. The terms are for two years. The six current board members, Marleen Nienhuis, Anthony Woeltz, Dana Dubreuil, Stephen Fox, Lois Russell and Ann Wilson Lloyd, are stepping down to make room for the seven new nominees. They are Barbara Sommerfeld, Anita Mercado, Glyn Polson, P.K. Shiu, Rhys Sevier, Courtney Fitzgerald, and Adam Castiglioni. An eighth nominee may have to postpone her commitment to next year due to a sudden increase in work load. Brief bios of the nominees, all passionate library advocates and South End Library users, will be made available later this week. In addition to the board vote, there will be an update on what is happening generally at the BPL, and particularly the coming battle before the Ways and Means Committee at the City Council over the BPL budget. The chair of this committee happens to be Mark Ciommo, in whose district the Faneuil branch is located, one of the four the BPL wants to close. While the South End Library is saved from extinction for the moment, some 90 positions are planned to be eliminated in the budget the mayor sent to the city council, recently. This will likely affect the South End branch. Unfortunately, under the current BPL regime the stated plan is still to reduce the current number of libraries from 26 to eight "lead" libraries, of 20,000 square feet or more, over a period of time. Most immediately, four libraries (Lower Mills near the Milton line, Faneuil in Brighton, Orient Heights in East Boston and the tiniest one, Washington Village in South Boston), have been selected for closure by the BPL trustees.

The BPL trustees' taunting of  many Boston city councillors and state delegates for being absent during their vote on April 9 to close libraries and lay off library employees, has already begun to backfire. (City councillors, who all showed up at an earlier BPL trustee meeting in March, were not allowed to speak at that time and sent packing by BPL chair Jeffrey Rudman.) Members of the Boston state delegation had attended numerous public meetings protesting library closings, including one March 24 at the South End Library. The entire Boston delegation, moreover, had also met with BPL president Amy Ryan to insist that state cuts be applied to state services and NOT to close city branches.  As a result of the stand-off, twelve state reps (Forry, Moran, Basile, Wallace, Allen, Fox, Honan, Mahlia, Michlewitz, Rushing, Sanchez and Walz) have filed several amendments to fight library closings, one of them to withhold $2.4 million from next year's state funding if the BPL proceeds with its plans to shutter branches. State Senator Jack (Hart South Boston) is working with his colleagues in the House to  come up with a simnilar amendment for the Senate budget. An excellent article on the subject also appeared in the Dorchester Reporter.