The Friends of the South End Library, Inc., (FOSEL) is a neighborhood organization dedicated to supporting the South End library, improving the physical appearances of the library and adjacent Library Park, and raising funds for programming created by FOSEL and/or requested by staff. 

From left to right: Licia Sky, Don Haber, Maura Harrington, Michael Fox, Liane Crawford, Ed Hostetter, Jackie McRath, Marleen Nienhuis, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Kim Clark, Barbara Sommerfeld, Michelle Laboy, Marilyn Davillier, Chris Fagg. Taken at the 2018 Annual Meeting at the SE Library.

From left to right: Licia Sky, Don Haber, Maura Harrington, Michael Fox, Liane Crawford, Ed Hostetter, Jackie McRath, Marleen Nienhuis, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Kim Clark, Barbara Sommerfeld, Michelle Laboy, Marilyn Davillier, Chris Fagg. Taken at the 2018 Annual Meeting at the SE Library.

About Us

FOSEL has built on the efforts of many previous and current South End residents who have advocated and volunteered since the branch opened at its present location, on Tremont Street between Rutland Square and West Newton Street, in 1971.  In 2008,  FOSEL became a charitable, non-profit under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its EIN is 26-2025971.

Our 2018-2020 voting and advisory board consists of the following volunteers, listed alphabetically:


Kim Clark: Kim is the founder of Polished Professionals Boston, a consulting practice that provides business strategy development and marketing solutions. She facilitates strategy-planning sessions in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and instructs aspiring entrepreneurs in the process of writing business plans. Kim is experienced in marketing and sales, creating and implementing strategic plans; participating in branding campaigns; forging relationships with decision makers and strategic partners; participating in the launch of new products; and managing a high-volume sales territory.

Marleen Nienhuis: Marleen became a library advocate when she moved to West Newton Street in 2003 from Durham Street and found the small branch within walking distance. She formalized an already existing and devoted South End Library Friends group into a 501C3 non-profit in 2008, enabling it to raise funds for programming. With many others, she fought the proposed library closures in 2010. With the first FOSEL board, she organized the South End Writes author series, the summer jazz concerts, the Library Park Easter Egg Hunt and raised funds for various programs the South End library staff requested. She resigned as president of FOSEL in 2010, but returned as FOSEL president in 2016. Before becoming a library advocate, she was treasurer and president of the Friends of Titus Sparrow Park in the 1990s when the park was lobbying for its renovation, and helped create the Titus Sparrow Park summer programming for children, and the music programs. She is the membership chair of the Rutland Square Association.

Barbara Sommerfeld: Barbara has lived in the South End for 45 years and raised two sons in the neighborhood. Now retired, after a career in elementary school teaching and text publishing, she received her MBA from Northeastern University and worked on the business side of non-profit organizations for 35 years. She has served as the treasurer of FOSEL since 2010.  She was a tutor for K-3 reading program at St. Stephens’s after-school program and is currently tutoring at the Blackstone School reading program run by Generations, Inc. Barbara is proud of the staff and programs of the South End library and welcomes the opportunity to continue her association with this pillar of the neighborhood.

Gary Bailey: Gary is Professor of Practice at Simmons College School of Social Work where he directs the Urban Leadership and Clinical Social Work Certificate Program and coordinates the Dynamics of Racism and Oppression Sequence. He has a secondary appointment at the Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences, where he also serves as Special Assistant to the Dean for Inter-Professional Education. Gary has a Faculty Affiliate appointment at Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care and is a consultant to Fenway Health Department of Behavioral Health, among his many affiliations. In addition, he is a member of several local boards, including the Fenway High School, the Friends of Harriet Tubman Park, and the Friends of Titus Sparrow Park. He is a trustee of the Union United Methodist Church, and a member of the Union United Methodist Church Leadership Team. Gary is interested in the issue of homelessness as it affects libraries.

Marilyn Davillier: Marilyn is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Boston and an internationally known clinician in Child-Parent Mental Health. She provides therapeutic and consultation services for parenting support, child treatment and family mental health. She is the co-director and curriculum coordinator for the Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program at University of Massachusetts, Boston. She and her husband, child development researcher Edward Tronick, have been South End residents since 2003. They are keen to develop a series of parenting forums that pulls from their combined professional expertise, as a public service to their South End neighbors.

Maura Harrington: Maura moved to the South End in 2013 but lived her entire life in greater Boston. Her professional career as a Group Health Underwriter for Prudential Insurance was paused to devote time to raising two children, now 21 and 23. Maura devotes her time to the CARES Pastoral Ministry and the Rainbow Ministry at St. Cecilia Parish. The main focus of her efforts are the rights and needs of the elderly, the homeless and the LGBTQ community. She has worked on the improvement and conservation of neighborhood treasures, such as the library and adjacent Library Park, as part of that interest. Besides FOSEL, she lends energy and support to the McKinley School, Boston Explorers Urban Camp, USES, The Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy, Boston Ballet and the BCA. 

Licia Sky: Licia is a singer-songwriter, playwright, and South End resident. She leads writing retreats and experiential movement and vocalizing workshops to facilitate self-awareness and connection with others. In the late nineties, she ran a poetry and music “open mic” for three years. She would like to start an “open mic” reading for the community through the South End library.

Duncan Will: Duncan is retired after a career in independent school administration, including 25 years at Phillips Academy in Andover. He became a full-time resident of Concord Square last September but split his time between there and Nantucket since 2012. Duncan volunteered for the Nantucket public library, called the Atheneum. Since moving to the South End, Duncan, guided by his friend and FOSEL board member Maura Harrington, has become a regular volunteer at Community Servings, the Pine Street Inn and the Boston Center for the Arts. In his spare time, Duncan enjoys weekly oil painting classes at the MFA and making paintings in his studio/apartment.


Nick Altschuler: Nick is a freelance writer and editor. He earned his MA in Magazine Writing from the Missouri School of Journalism and is the former managing editor of The Improper Bostonian. He is currently at work on his first novel, in addition to helping other writers shape their manuscripts. Nick lives on Appleton Street with his wife and son. 

Liane Crawford: Liane has been a South End resident for forty years and, with her husband Don, raised their three now-adult children here. Liane has served as board member for various organizations, including the board of the Eastern CT Symphony Orchestra and the Community Music Center of Boston Corporation. Liane worked closely with USES on the reopening celebration of the Children's Art Centre. Her background is in finance, marketing and fundraising. She currently consults for non-profit organizations.

Susanna Coit: Susanna is the Archives and Research Library assistant at Perkins School for the Blind. She has an MSLIS in Archives Management from Simmons School of Library and Information Science. She helped bring the Local/Focus window for the Perkins School for the Blind to the library.

Michael Cox: Michael Cox moved to the South End four years ago from Utah to participate in the city’s energetic startup culture. Subsequently, he’s worked at a variety of new businesses in an assortment of roles – he has made educational videos at MIT, written online journalism, and worked as a private chef. Along the way, he actively participates in Boston’s vibrant cultural scene – specializing in film, theatre, and literature – and writing for professional organizations like the Independent Reviewers of New England and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Some of Michael’s plays have been produced in theaters across the country, and his films have been screened in festivals throughout the world. Michael actively uses the library for its many resources, but he has a special interest in the author series. He would like to help the Friends of the South End Library with programming and promotion.

Gail Ide: As a newly added board member, Gail will provide her bio shortly.

Don Haber: Don Haber is co-chair of the Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library, the oldest Friends group in the BPL system (est. 1952) (www.friendsjplibrary.org). He began advocating for renovation of the JP Branch 14 years ago; last May it reopened after a $10 million renovation to spectacular reviews. For the past several years, he has attended most BPL Trustees meetings with Marleen Nienhuis. When the JP Branch was targeted for closure in 2009/10, he helped mobilize the effort to save all branches from closure. He also serves on the Advisory Board for JP Reads, a community-wide literary celebration (www.jpreads.org). Professionally, he is an attorney who works from home in Jamaica Plain. He also serves as vice-president of the Jamaica Hills Neighborhood Association.

Ed Hostetter:  Ed, the happy father of two young men, moved into the South End in 2012 from Pittsburgh, PA. During his thirty-plus years in Pittsburgh, Ed’s days were filled with parenting, husbanding and sundry vocations, including school teaching, fine carpentry and remodeling (20 years plus), and psychiatric nursing (adolescent/young adult).  Presently, Ed invests a lot of his time on two programs, 1) Bridge over Troubled Water for homeless youth, tutoring math in the HiSet program, and 2) South-West Corridor Park, helping various plantings survive the challenges of the urban environment. Ed and his wife are thrilled to call the corner of Columbus Ave and West Newton Street “home.”

Stephen Fox: Steve came to Boston in 1972 to go to grad school and never left except for a three-year posting in Washington, D.C. in corporate government relations. He worked in educational research and consulting and was tapped by Mayor Kevin White as Special Assistant for Education Policy; shortly thereafter he became the mayor's Executive Assistant, working closely with all city departments, the Boston City Council, and constituencies and neighborhoods citywide. In the private sector, he was the Asia-Pacific Trade & Government Relations Manager for Digital Equipment Corporation and became its the Worldwide Trade Manager. When Compaq and then Hewlett-Packard merged with Digital, Steve declined to leave Boston for Texas or Palo Alto and went to work for a health care technology start-up founded by Tufts Medical Center CEO and Harvard research physician Jerry Grossman. After some 30 years of work within his own neighborhood association, Steve was one of the original founders, and now current chair, of the South End Forum. The Forum is the first South End-wide association to represent the common interests and initiatives of the now fifteen independent neighborhood and two business associations of the South End. Steve has been a long-time advocate for the library and its park at city agencies and with city officials, and will continue to play that role. He lives on Rutland Square.

Gail Ide: One of the early advocates for the South End library when it first opened in 1971, pledges to update her bio soon.

Michelle Laboy: Michelle is trained as an architect, urban planner and civil engineer and teaches architecture at Northeastern University. She also practices as an architect. She has lived in the South End for six years with her architect husband. Most of her work has been high-end residential and school projects, which are deeply focused on creating a meaningful connection between inside and outside. She and her husband won a City of Boston’s public-space award for the Library Park sustainable groundwater installations, the LightWells. Michelle was the moving force behind the multi-phased South End library renovation proposal, which is now receiving its first funding allocations.

Reinhold Mahler:
Reinhold is a retired associate professor of architecture. He taught at the Technical University of Munich, was a guest professor at the University of Virginia and moved to Boston in 1989 to teach at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. After retiring, he opened Encore Bed and Breakfast in his home adjacent to the South End library with his husband David Miller, who established the fringe theater company, Zeitgeist Stage Company. Reinhold developed all the graphic and website design for Zeitgeist after taking a few courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and studying Digital Collage with the fabulous teacher, Fran Forman. He is looking forward to support FOSEL as a member of the advisory board. 

Jaqueline L. McRath: Jackie has lived in the South End for more than forty years, and feels that the library is one of the most treasured community resources.  She recycles her Boston Globe to the library and is a grateful recipient of free books ("Open to All") on the library's front entrance cart. She frequently takes children's books from the cart to the pediatric unit of the South End Health Center.  She has taken memoir writing at the Dudley Branch and would love to see such workshops given at the South End Branch. Jackie has published travel articles and poems, and covered FESTAC, 2nd WORLD BLACK AND AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CULTURE for the Bay State Banner.  She chairs the Theresa-India Young Scholarship Committee, which awards a scholarship in the Fibers Dept. at Mass Art. She is currently researching the life and works of Beat Generation Jazz Action surrealist poet, Ted Joans, and, most recently, provided full technical support to the Haitian surrealist painter, Patrick Gerald Wah.

.Jon Santiago: Jon is a South End resident and emergency medicine physician at Boston Medical Center who was recently elected to the MA House seat held for many years by the distinguished State Rep. Byron Rushing. Prior to completing medical school at Yale University, he spent five years abroad working in community development and public health. His experiences growing up in Roxbury have led him back to Boston where he remains engaged in issues affecting underserved communities. A big believer in public service, he is a captain in the Army Reserve and a former Peace Corps Volunteer. He looks forward to making the sure the library remains a valued and utilized resource in the South End. 

Anne Smart: Anne Smart has been an employee at the Boston Public Library for 25 years.  Prior to working at the South End branch, she was in East Boston and Charlestown branches.  She has been at the South End library for 20 years.  She is a member of the board at the South End Historical Society, United South End Artists, and the Blackstone Community Center.  She was raised on the South Shore and received her Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Texas.

Karen Watson: Karen Watson has lived and worked in the Boston area for the past 20 years. She is a former board member of Outward Bound International, YMCA, and Thompson Island Outward Bound. Connecting the local creative community with the South End library to enhance the entire community is a goal she would like to pursue for the benefit of all involved. Karen has been the moving force behind the Local/Focus window installation project at the South End branch, which connects local artists, creative entrepreneurs and non-profits to the library and the community.

Are you interested in joining the board? Let us know by contacting us at info@friendsofsouthendlibrary.org.

What we do

FOSEL has sponsored programming it created for children, teens, adults and seniors, and initiatives requested by library staff. FOSEL-sponsored programs include the popular Easter Egg Hunt, the author series The South End Writes/The Library Invites; the Local/Focus Project to use the Tremont Street window(s) to showcase local artists, creative entrepreneurs, and non-profits within the mission of the library; the summer Jazz & Blues concert series with Pat Loomis and Friends in Library Park; and the Holiday Party with Pat Loomis's band that also features a festive meal prepared by the husband of library staffer Carol Glass and FOSEL volunteers. 

Accomplished highlights

We have installed and planted tree pits around the library on Tremont and West Newton Streets; swept, cleaned up, watered and planted sections of Library Park and lobbied local nurseries (Mahoney's Garden Center and Urbgardens) to contribute their plantings and services, for free; refurbished and repaired the library's seating area; re-upholstered and repaired the staff's circulation counter; completed handicapped accessibility at the library by getting automatic door-openers installed; replaced unattractive signage for the South End branch with beautiful new signage on its Tremont Street side; refinished and repaired seven oak library tables; paid for carpet cleaning and window washing; and, in 2016 repaired, refurbished and reinstalled the fallen-down large drapes in the second-floor community room. Last year, with the help of the Mayor's Office for Urban Mechanics, two colorful groundwater-regulating /solar-energy powered LightWell installations created by the award-winning team of Fieldworkshop were placed in Library Park to provide a lively presence in the park at night and to promote sustainable water filtration and groundwater protection.

This year, the Parks Department will begin an overhaul and redesign of Library Park, for which $150,000 had been allocated two years ago by the Mayor's Office at the request of FOSEL. After deducting costs for design services, $115,000 will be spent on the initial improvements, details of which can be found at the Parks Department website, linked here.  Construction is supposed to start in March 2018 and be completed in late summer, all weather permitting...the traditional Boston cautionary tale.

Most recently, FOSEL has been able to obtain capital funding from the City of Boston and the BPL to begin a multi-phased renovation of the branch, to start with the two-phased interior renovation for FY 2018. (The exterior renovation/expansion will be a longer-term project that will commence with a one-year BPL-sponsored program study in the very near future, to be followed by a design study, to be followed by the funding of the project.) FOSEL has successfully supplemented the $132,000 BPL allocation with $50,000 in private funds raised from our board and the South End community; we exceeded our goal by more than $40,000. The extra money will be applied to the second-phase fundraising effort, the estimate for which depends on final cost estimates for the interior changes by the BPL. We expect there will be another capital appropriation by the city in FY 2019 so we can complete to overhaul of the library's downstairs interior and turn it into a state-of-the-art branch that provides modern the library services the South End community deserves. 

Board of Directors


President: Marleen Nienhuis
(2 Yr term - expires Jan. 2020)
Treasurer: Barbara Sommerfeld
(2 Yr term - expires Jan. 2020)
Acting Clerk/Secretary: Kim Clark
(2 Yr term - expires Jan. 2020)

(1 Yr terms - expire Jan. 2019)

Gary Bailey, Marilyn Davillier, Maura Harrington. Licia Sky, Duncan Will

Advisory Board:

(1 Yr terms - expire Jan. 2019)

Nick Altschuler, Liane Crawford, Susanna Coit. Michael Cox, Don Haber, Ed Hostetter, Gail Ide, Stephen Fox, Michelle Laboy, Reinhold Mahler, Jaqueline McRath, Jon Santiago, Anne Smart, Karen Watson

Annual Meeting

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 6:30 PM