FOSEL Reports Librarians Removed Despite Widespread Neighborhood Support

After a week of strong advocacy from neighbors and elected officials in support of suspended South End Librarian Anne Smart, members of the Friends of the South End Library (FOSEL) reported that Smart had allegedly been forced to retire and another long-time librarian there was fired.

The Boston Public Library (BPL) said it could not comment on personnel issues.

“Once again, we can’t comment on personnel issues,” read a statement from library officials. “While we cannot comment on ongoing personnel matters, the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library does remain fully operational, with ongoing patron service.”

Past FOSEL President Marleen Nienhuis said she was informed that Smart, whom she was calling to be reinstated, had been asked to allegedly retire or be fired, she said.

Another long-time Librarian at the branch, she said, had been fired and was not yet close to retirement age.

Nienhuis said she was aghast at the harshness exhibited by Boston Public Libraries in the matter.

Smart had been suspended in April with pay, but few knew about the suspension because libraries across the city were closed to patrons until later in the year. Last week, her cause caught fire and hundreds rallied to support her, including Councilor Ed Flynn and State Rep. Jon Santiago.

Nienhuis said the issue at hand was that a few patrons were let into the library informally during COVID-19 restrictions in order that they could be helped with computer issues and job applications.

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