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Protestors push back on library board, advocate for interim CEO permanent appointment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Protesters say they aren’t finished yet days after the newly selected CEO of the Central library in downtown Indianapolis decided not to take the job. An extensive search may begin again. Community members say they believe the obvious choice is already here.

A new Indiana library CEO was supposed to have officially been assigned to office. Instead, protestors are taking up space outside of the Central Library. Some are calling for the board to resign, while others just want to know why they’d choose an outsider instead of someone with deep ties to the community.

Disappointment is an understatement for many community members in the days after the library board voted for Gabriel Morley as its new CEO, and the disappointment is pushing them to act.

“I was hoping that the board would listen to the community. And pick the most fit candidate, which was Nichelle Hayes,” community advocate Wildstyle Pascall.

With immediate push back from the community, the decision was short lived, as Morley decided not to take the job. Interim CEO Nichelle Hayes, despite holding the position for eight months didn’t get selected.

“Disappointment, but just sadness that some people involved that they didn’t respect the community,” Paschall said.

Paschall, in step with others has written a letter calling for the majority of the board to resign. Saying there’s been a long history of distrust, and this adds another layer.

“The board was setting him up for failure,” said Michael Torres, with the Local library chapter union.

Torres said they are in agreement with the community. While they aren’t calling for the board to resign, they do want to know why choose an outside candidate. Adding having the community latch on, amplifies their stand and hopes it brings answers.

“We don’t understand the decision not to hire Nichelle Hayes. Being that she was qualified to be the interim CEO, but not seemingly qualified or good enough to be the permanent CEO,” Torres said.

The Library Board president in a statement said:

“In its meeting on December 8, the Indianapolis Public Library Board passed a resolution which took several actions, including recognizing the service the two individuals who had served as interim CEOs (Mr. John Helling and Ms. Nichelle M. Hayes), bringing completion to the CEO Search process begun in the spring, concluding the appointment of the Library’s interim CEO, and extending an offer to a candidate who declined the offer the next day. With the conclusion of the term of the interim CEO, the order of succession for administration is that the Chief Public Services Officer serves as Acting CEO. Therefore, Gregory Hill is the acting CEO until the Board decides next steps regarding the interim and begins a new permanent CEO search. Nichelle M. Hayes has returned to her previous role with the Indianapolis Public Library as the Manager of the Center for Black Literature and Culture. The Indianapolis Public Library Board is thankful for her eight months of service in the role as Interim CEO.”

For the benefit of the library and its staff and patrons, our hope is that any patron, staff member, or member of the community who feels they did not get their preferred outcome will value the library enough to support the organization in a positive, productive manner as we move forward into the library’s next chapter.

But many in the community say they’ve shown support and it’s been ignored.

“The community is not wrong here,” Paschall said.

Supporters say they plan to pack the next board meeting happening Dec. 19, hoping the board will call for a resolution naming Hayes CEO.