A people’s victory: Organizer Stephen Lane appointed to IndyPL Board

Stephen Lane holds up yellow placard at a City County Council, reading "The system is broken: We need a new one!"

Stephen Lane (right) protests at the January City-County Council meeting, from which police escorted him for making the people’s demands heard. Photo: PSL Indianapolis.

As members, supporters, and followers of the Indianapolis Liberation Center are well aware, the Liberation Center has, along with the library workers union AFSCME 3395/962, and others, been involved in several struggles against the undemocratic, dysfunctional, anti-worker, and racist majority of the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees since the summer of 2021.

We are excited to announce that, in our most recent and still-ongoing fight, the people just won a major victory: Stephen Lane–a former library worker and union member, an archivist, and an organizer with the Indianapolis Liberation Center–was just appointed to the Board of Trustees by the Indianapolis Public School Board.

As Stephen Lane told the Indianapolis Liberation Center:

“Tonight it wasn’t just me that got elected to the board! It was all the library workers who were made to feel powerless! And if they have a grievance let them bring it forward! The days of fearing retaliation from the executive leadership are over! They will learn to work with the library workers with the respect they deserve. I promise IndyPL library workers that!”

Lane speaking at a community meeting

Lane is a central coordinating organizer with the Indianapolis Liberation Center, and in the past two years has been active in not only the library struggle but in the Campaign for Justice for Herman Whitfield III, the mutual aid program, Hope Packages: Building Unity Through Solidarity, and many others.

Regarding this particular struggle, IndyStar reporter Ko Lyn Cheang reports that “Lane has been an outspoken supporter of Hayes and a strong critic of the library board’s actions.” She notes that “with his appointment, the board becomes evenly split between those who support Hayes for CEO—Lane and Drs. Khaula Murtadha and Patricia Payne—and those who do not—board president Hope Tribble, Ray Biederman, and Curtis Bigsbee.”

Lane is replacing former Board President Jose Salinas, who managed to hang onto his position after the people organized to oust their former racist CEO, Jackie Nytes.

At the December Board Meeting, Lane–along with several others–presented the more than 1,800 signatures we gathered through our petition. At that same meeting, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association announced their intentions to move their 2023 annual conference out of Indianapolis. In an incredible act of solidarity, they soon followed through by officially moving their 12th Annual Conference out of Indianapolis, specifically citing the IndyPL Board’s refusal to hire Nichelle Hayes as CEO.

The fight isn’t over, however. Not only do we need one more Board member who actually listens to and respects our community, but we still haven’t installed Hayes as CEO, nor have we begun to address the systemic issues underlying the Board’s undemocratic and unethical behavior.

It’s crucial that we pack the next public Board meeting this Monday, January 23 at 6:30 pm at the Library Services Center.