The two candidates vying for the leadership and stewardship of one of our city’s most precious resources, the Indianapolis Public Library, delivered public presentations on November 30. Nichelle Hayes, a third-generation Indianapolis resident who rose through the ranks of the library system and is endorsed by AFSCME 3395 Library Workers, the Greater Indianapolis NAACP, Indianapolis Liberation Center, and others, emerged as the clear pick over Gabriel Morley. The hiring process is not yet finished however, and community and union leaders urged attendees to stay focused and engaged at this crucial moment, which is why the Indianapolis Liberation Center and AFSCME Local 3395 are currently circulating this petition to the Board of Trustees. Add your name to the petition here!
Morley’s presentation lacked substantive vision and values
Morley came from the New Orleans Public Library after he resigned abruptly as it was uncovered he was in violation of the city’s residency clause because he didn’t even live in the state of Louisiana.
He also lost favor with New Orleans public library workers for his handling of the reopening of the library during the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic without making adequate worker protections. Morley worked with the city government in an attempt to defund the library by millions of dollars until the workers and community got wind of his sinister plot and stopped him! A simple internet search would have given the Board of Trustees all they needed to know as to why Morley is not the right fit for the job.
Morley went over time on his presentation that never provided a vision as to how he would lead our public library. Morley believed the main problem with libraries is that the “voices at the top” are not heard, when most workers know that the CEO overwhelmingly takes up space in the communication or lack thereof within the organization. He stated that being the CEO for more than four years would be a long time, implying that he would jump ship within a relatively short amount of time.
During the question and answer session, Morley struggled to respond to a five year old’s question about why a children’s book–with an English title–was available in Spanish, a question the moderator said was a “softball.”
When asked about the presence of homeless people in the library, Morley bragged about designing library spaces “that would be accommodating but that would also not, uh, encourage nine or 10 hours of loitering every day.” You read that right: in his presentation to become the candidate for CEO of our library system, Morley explicitly endorsed a vision of a library without people in it during its operational hours.
Current interim CEO Hayes receives standing applause from workers and community members
Hayes, current interim CEO of IndyPL, gave the second presentation, which not only adhered to the time limits but proved to be more engaging and resonated with the public with many pauses in her presentation for applause. She said that she plans to bring more people at the decision-making table that includes the AFSCME 3395 Library Workers Union, board members, administrators and the community.
Hayes received standing ovations twice during her presentation from an audience composed overwhelmingly of library workers and community members.
When asked about the presence of homeless people in the library, she responded by stating “that they are our patrons as well.” “It’s important for us to treat them with respect and courtesy.”
When asked the same “softball” question as Morley, Hayes immediately answered that the text is available in Spanish because residents are literate in Spanish and others are trying to become literate in it.
Hayes clearly articulated that she would focus on increasing efficiency in staffing, continuing Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity Initiatives, provide training for the library staff and Board of Trustees, expand training and advancement opportunities in the system, proactively educate the community on the freedom to read, continue to seek increased compensation for workers, boost community patronage of the library, and continue collaboratively working together to imagine and implement a better library system.
Hayes: Not only the people’s choice, but the only choice!
At a dinner before the presentations, AFSCME 3395 President Michael Torres said that we will need to remain vigilant and ready to act if the Board has any tricks up its sleeve to thwart the clear victory and choice in our next CEO. That choice is Nichelle Hayes!
Hayes knows that in order to improve your organization is to take better care of your workers. She felt the stifling and stress-inducing system under disgraced former CEO Jackie Nytes’s leadership and knew that there was a better way to run a library.
When former library worker Bree Flannely blew the whistle on what it was like to work in an oppressive and racist system under Nytes’s leadership at the May 2021 board meeting, the workers seized the opportunity to push Nytes out and led a strong campaign to do just that. Now the empowered workers moved on to their next objective which is to secure Nichelle Hayes’s position as our next library CEO. AFSCME 3395 needs community support to make this happen. They ask that anyone and everyone in Indianapolis that wants to see a better public library system sign the statement to let the Board know who the people want! When we fight together we can win. So onward and upward comrades, we have a world to win!
While it was obvious to anyone in attendance that Hayes far surpasses Morley in her dedication, experience, and commitment, the struggle is not yet over. Please sign and share the petition demanding that the Board of Trustees hire Nichelle Hayes now!