After a brief meeting of the Indianapolis Public Library board of trustees was convened at 5 p.m. on Friday, August 20, an announcement was issued that CEO Jackie Nytes will step down at the end of the month.
In a joint statement, The Library board said, “We thank Jackie for her dedicated service over the years and agreed that this is the correct time for a change in leadership. We look forward to finding the next CEO and working with Library staff to guide this important community pillar into its next phase of service for Marion County residents.”
Nytes, who has served as CEO since 2012, has come under intense scrutiny since a May 24, 2021 board of trustees virtual meeting when former employee Bree Flannelly was muted after asserting that black female employees at the Library were being disrespected and undercompensated. Subsequent news reports have included additional accusations of a racist and hostile work environment for women of color leading to calls for Nytes’ resignation.
While acknowledging the criticisms, Nytes maintained that she and the library leadership were committed to diversity, and an equitable workplace. “Our entire leadership is working to bring about positive change through required training, educational opportunities, internal communication, and adjusted procedures. Together we have achieved a great deal of progress, and though the journey is long and challenging, we are committed to this work,” she said in a June 22 statement.
A month later, Nytes struck a conciliatory tone in another statement that read, in part, “The challenges we face demonstrate our imperfections and room for growth, and that is exactly how we intend to lead the library forward – to grow and improve constantly and consistently so that The Indianapolis Public Library is an antiracist organization.” In public remarks, she remained steadfast in her commitment to remain as CEO.
However, on August 9, the Central Indiana Community Foundation’ affiliate, The Indianapolis Foundation, which manages the $28 million Library Fund that awarded $700,000 to IndyPL, announced that it was withholding future funding, “Until the planned race climate improvement process has concluded and significant, meaningful and measurable change toward a more equitable internal environment is evident.”
Today’s statement noted that a search process will begin immediately to find the next CEO for The Library, a position requiring a majority vote from the board for appointment. An interim CEO is expected to be named and confirmed at the next regular board meeting on Monday, August 23.
In an email, IndyPL communications director Joe Backe wrote, “Library administration is not providing additional comment at this time – we will share updates as we move forward in the coming weeks.”