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Indy PL responds after City-County Council members ask them to appoint Nichelle Hayes as CEO

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Posted at 4:36 PM, Jan 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-05 17:56:35-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Sixteen members of the Indianapolis City-County Council have signed a letter to the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees regarding the search for a new CEO.

The letter says that the search "has to date resulted in more instability and turmoil for the institution rather than less."

Former CEO Jackie Nytes resigned in August 2021 after months of some library employees calling for resignations and a change of leadership, claiming some members of management have created a toxic work environment. Some employees say under Nytes, there was an environment where racism, sexism, ableism, and other issues are swept under the rug.

Last month, the board announced it had selected Dr. Gabriel Morley as its next CEO over interim CEO Nichelle M. Hayes. That search took nine months and less than 24 hours after the announcement, Morley declined the job.

"We believe the library board’s recent decision to reopen the CEO search rather than appoint Ms. Nichelle Hayes will have a detrimental impact on the system," the council's letter reads. "Unless there are issues of which we have not been made aware, we ask the Indianapolis Public Library board of directors to heed the calls of our community and appoint Ms. Nichelle Hayes as the Indianapolis Public Library CEO."

On Thursday evening, several members of the board wrote a letter in response to the Councillor's letter.

"We recognize that the results of the recent CEO search process created confusion and continued discord in our community and among our staff. We as Trustees must come together and do better for all those who care for and utilize our Library," the letter reads.

The letter goes on to discuss the selection of Hayes as interim CEO and says trustees made no promises or guarantees that the person assuming the interim position would advance or be promoted to the permanent role.

"It is also important to note that the level of experience and skills required to serve as Interim CEO are quite different from those the Trustees sought in a permanent CEO. While many have assumed that having the capacity to act as Interim CEO is a de facto illustration of having the necessary skills and experience to act as a permanent CEO, this is not the case," the letter reads. "The Trustees were willing to accept an Interim CEO with far less managerial, leadership, and fiscal oversight skill and experience than that expected of a permanent CEO at an institution as large as the Library."

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Interim Chief Public Services Officer Gregory Hill is currently serving as the acting CEO for IndyPL. The library's website states that Hill will stay in that position until the Board appoints another interim or permanent CEO.

VIEW: IndyPL leadership

The IndyPL letter says a new search for a permanent CEO will begin later this year, and all previous candidates will be eligible for consideration in the new search process.

Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees President Hope C. Tribble released the following statement to WRTV in response to the letter:

“As president of the Indianapolis Public Library board of trustees, I appreciate the feedback from members of our City-County Council regarding the search for a new CEO to lead the library, and I understand their focus is the best interest of their constituents and the stakeholders the library board is called to serve. The issues that the Councillors and others have raised will be addressed when all internal legal and governance reviews are complete.”

You can read the full letters from both parties below.