At the March 28 meeting of the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees, the board voted unanimously to appoint Nichelle M. Hayes as IndyPL’s next interim CEO, beginning April 2. Hayes will take over for John Helling, who has been the interim CEO since September 1, following the departure of Jackie Nytes last summer.
Hayes has been with the Library system since 2015, most notably serving as the manager of the Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) located at Central Library. Since its opening in 2017, Hayes has led the CBLC to national recognition as a special collection librarian, through programming and events, and most recently the development of interactive digital kiosks and website to serve as educational tools that highlight local Black voices and enhance the CBLC’s impact.
“I am honored to be entrusted with the role of interim CEO, and I look forward to being an advocate and leader for the system,” says Hayes. “I believe that we as a staff and community are stronger together, and that the Library is a fundamental part of the fabric of Indianapolis.”
Hayes is a graduate of Arlington High School in Indianapolis. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree and Master of public Administration from Valdosta State University, and then a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University in 2011. She is an alum of the Indiana Librarians Leading in Diversity Fellowship Program (I-ILID), which she credits as helping her join the librarian profession. She has served as the President of the Indiana Black Librarians Network, is currently the President Elect of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and was nationally recognized as a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker” in 2021. Additionally, she is a genealogist with a focus on African ancestry and has conducted several programs on the topic for IndyPL patrons.
Hayes enters the role of interim CEO as the Library, with approximately 570 employees, recently received results of a climate study to uncover an organizational understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion among staff. The findings include recommendations for improving board of trustee governance, improving trust among staff and leadership, updating hiring practices, updating policies around harassment and HR reporting, improving managerial training, and more.
The Library’s board recently engaged with consultant Bradbury Miller Associates to conduct a national search for the permanent CEO. The position is expected to go public in May, with interviews taking place this summer with potential candidates. The process will include input from Library staff, patrons, and community organizations.