Library racism fight continues as Nytes, Salinas try to hang on

The July Indianapolis Public Library board meeting had many members of the community, current and former library staff openly express their solidarity with Bree Flannelly in calling for a change in leadership at the top of the Indianapolis Public Library. They called for the resignations of the board president Judge Jose Salinas and the CEO Jackie Nytes. Former IndyPL worker Mahasin Ameen said that she had to “work twice as hard to get half as far” as white workers. She said after she left IndyPL to advance in her career that she was providing free labor for IndyPL on a grant so that the Martindale-Brightwood community had access to computers and the internet. No one should have to provide free labor for an under resourced community to get access to critical resources for their community.

CEO Nytes stated that she felt attacked. This is typical white woman victimhood that dismisses the concerns of Blacks and other marginalized employees from getting their concerns addressed. She does not see how she has done anything wrong especially after one of her emails leaked calling for Black leaders to send letters of support on her behalf and to “recruit” other Black leaders to sign the letter because she does not believe the current narrative is accurate. Indianapolis Liberation Center member Derek Ford addressed Nytes’ leaked email as intellectually dishonest and incorrect. “A CEO should have a certain intellectual rigor.” And when issues of racism come to light, there should be an immediate remedy to address that racism. There has been excuse after excuse. The board president and CEO work hard to discredit Bree’s powerful statement and the testimonies of other former and current library workers.

This meeting provided further proof that there is a firm grip on the board members concentrated in the hands of the CEO as many board members seek to stall and control the agreed upon climate study for staff. New board member Hope Tribble has been placed in control of the climate study with the plan to hire an independent company to conduct the climate study. Board member Dr. Khaula Murtadha, an IUPUI professor, called out that it was not what was agreed upon at the July 8 board meeting where Dr. Murtadha would lead the climate study as she has experience leading such studies and laid out a comprehensive plan on how it would be carried out. This prompted an audience member to interrupt the board meeting to call out the fact that after the July board meeting it became obvious that Jackie Nytes would not be able to lead the team of the climate audit. The board shifted back to hire an independent company. The CEO cannot loosen her grip from power that has corrupted her over her 8-year reign as CEO of the Indianapolis Public Library. It is apparent that she feels entitled and fears losing her power. Now, Nytes is planning to go on what many staff view as an apology tour to every branch to have a “difficult conversation” and asking staff to read the email she sent out to donors on how much she has done for the Black community.

This is very disingenuous and provides proof that she is not equipped to handle the internal work culture within IndyPL to address systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. She can’t acknowledge her role in upholding the status quo. We call on the public, who may have already given up on this public institution. We ask not abandon hope and help us push for positive changes within the work climate of IndyPL by signing the petition and coming to the next board meeting to voice your concerns on Monday, August 23 at 6:30PM.

The Liberation Center stands in solidarity with AFSCME local 3395 representing library workers who demand the resignations of CEO Jackie Nytes and Library Board President Judge Jose Salinas. Catch the latest news here.