Supported by workers, whistleblowers, and union president, Lane resigns from library Board

On March 25, Stephen Lane, the only librarian on the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees, held a press conference in front of Arsenal Technical High School before the Indianapolis Public School Action Meeting. Accompanied by former library worker and whistleblower Bree Flannelly, President of AFSCME 3395, the Library Workers Union, Michael Torres, and Indiana Black Librarians Network member Mahasin Ameen, he read his letter of resignation before delivering it to IPS leadership.

That morning, Lane found out IPS Board President Angelia L. Moore slipped a recommendation to remove Lane as an IPS Board of School Commissioners appointee into that night’s 6:00 pm meeting agenda. Apparently, representing the public’s interest “cost too much in legal fees,” he said.

The decision to resign on his own terms was done in consultation with the very people who forced his appointment in the first place. After serving over a year on the Library Board, Lane realized that he can “more effectively implement real changes by working in the streets and communities.” In an interview with the Indianapolis Liberator, Lane gave two specific and powerful examples:

“It was the library workers, their union, and the community, including the Indianapolis Liberation Center, that forced our old racist boss Jackie Nytes out as CEO. It was the same forces that kept Gabriel Morley out of our city. The people united and made it clear we did not want him running our library and transforming it into a corporate entity. The people have the power, not the Board of Trustees.”

You can watch Lane deliver his letter to the IPS Board and read the text of the letter below.

“I don’t want to be part of your ‘fight club'”

Lane’s letter of resignation

To the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Commissioners,

I love the public library. When I went there as a kid with my late sister Erica and my single mother, Crickett, I knew that no matter how tight money was we could always walk out with something of value. What a dream it was to work in beautiful Central Library for eight years while I earned my Masters of Library and Information Science. I was honored by the opportunity to serve on the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees, and was excited to support on-the-ground library workers. My colleague Dr. Murtadha said it best: our library workers, from the pages to the Librarians to the Branch managers and ARMs, do the real work of serving our communities every day. 

I learned so much in the public library from both patrons and my dedicated colleagues, but I often felt stressed and  unsupported. I’ve been sad to learn that many systems within the library are designed to benefit a privileged few rather than the broader community. Those in power quietly voted on resolutions to move money from the staff salaries budget to pay armed cops in the branches. All the while, I received emails of staff being targeted and abused. One library worker was targeted by her supervisor for being autistic and pushed out of her position before completing 90 days because she didn’t fit into the social environment that the supervisor cultivated. As many of you know, the library forced out founding director of the Center for Black Literature and Culture Nichelle Hayes and her staff Amira Malcolm, two amazing Black women doing invaluable cultural and educational work to highlight local history. 

Board president Hope Tribble once referred to serving on the IndyPL board as a “contest” in which board members have to compete to be key players. If this is true, it is a contest that is rigged. In order to effectively participate on the board, I had to learn to read Indiana code with no support from our legal counsel Clack, Quinn and Associates. Once I figured out how to call for my own meetings, I started getting the heaviest resistance from my fellow board members.  Because I advocated for our library workers and patrons rather than the board’s friends in high places, they found a way to pressure IPS commissioners into having me removed from the board with no notice. 

Why are they so keen on removing people who act in the community’s interest instead of the fact that only 60 percent of IPS students can read at grade level? That should tell you where their priorities lie.  As it stands, this so-called “democratic” system leaves me with two options: to be removed from the board by the commissioners, or leave on my own terms and expose the corrupt nature of the system as it currently functions.

To the library workers I am leaving behind: Pay attention to the board packets and work together to read between the lines. Don’t let them continue to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay off their friends. Continue to speak up for yourselves and the patrons you serve.

Shame on you IPS Board of Commissioners,


Stephen Lane

Featured photo: Lane reads his letter of resignation at the April 25, 2024 press conference. Credit: Indianapolis Liberation Center.