One year since the people kicked out Jackie Nytes: Reflections by union president

August 20, 2022

Dear Diary,

One year ago today Resolution 44 – 2021 (Recognition of Service of M. Jacqueline Nytes and Approval of Employment Separation) was the only item on the agenda at this Special Executive Library board meeting. Trustee Pat Payne made the motion then Rev. TD Robinson second the motion and by a unanimous vote CEO, Jackie Nytes was “relieved” of her duties as Chief Executive Officer for Indianapolis Marion County Public Library.

CEO Nytes began her term with IndyPL in 2012. It was a mix bag of decisions that ended up uniting staff more than ever. Since the pandemic the majority of staff who could not work from home had been at odds with Library leadership, not agreeing with the stages of reopening the library. We closed March 15, 2020 and at a time when libraries nationwide were continuing to remain closed. We opened our doors once Governor Holcomb lifted the travel ban; and remained open. It seemed like we made at least a dozen adjustments during the pandemic’s year and a half run. I can’t speak for all the staff but public service staff were scared and that is why we continued to challenge leadership at every step by making our thoughts known. Many felt our concerns fell on deaf ears. CEO Nytes’ retort always began or ended with Marion County Virginia Caine, MD said it was ok. Staff and the public got daily emails on closings due to COVID. Branches had it worse than Central due to their limited public and work space. Central had more room but CEO Nytes still allowed weddings to continue, making staff even more frustrated. Conflicts between Library leadership and staff persisted all the while regular issues of managing a library staff were happening, then the May 24, 2021 library board meeting happened.

Former Learning Curve employee, Bree Flannelly came to speak at the May 24, 2021 library board meeting to publicly document her experiences of racism while working in the Learning Curve at Central library and share her reaction to the results of an investigation by HR Director, Katherine Lerg and Chief Public Service Director, John Helling after learning Library leadership claimed no issues of racism happened. When Bree discovered their findings she felt ignored and dismissed so signed up for public comment and when it came time for her to speak she was told “no, you are not going to speak” by board President, Judge Jose D Salinas, who then cut her microphone off. You could say those actions were the beginning of IndyPL’s intense public scrutiny.

From May 24, 2021 to August of that year, public calls and letters for CEO Jackie Nytes and board president Judge Jose D Salinas to resign or step down were heard during public comment, in our local newspapers and news. I suppose you can say Judge Salinas’ denying Bree Flannelly to speak was the action that started the end of Jackie Nytes but then word got about a particular meeting with the board and next thing you know CEO Nytes is asked to resign but not without, according to Indiana Gateway Compensation database, taking in $245,015.85 in compensation for 2021. Will the public ever really know what happened?

For background information on the successful struggle to force Nytes to resign, see this article.