Foundation halts funding for Indianapolis Public Library amid accusations of racism by employees

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INDIANAPOLIS– The Central Indiana Community Foundation has halted funding for the Indianapolis Public Library after several employees have come forward accusing the library of racism and discrimination.

During a public board meeting on May 24, former employee Bree Flannely attempted to share her experiences with racism during her employment.

Flannely was then muted by board of trustees President Jose Salinas.

That’s when two other board members quickly jumped in, demanding Flannely be given a chance to speak.

“I had tried really hard to not go to the public,” Flannelly said.

Flannelly said she spoke with library leadership numerous times in the month leading up to the meeting but was brushed off.

Before quitting in February, Flannelly said she witnessed racist remarks made on several occasions by library staff.

“It made me feel like my humanity wouldn’t be respected,” Flannely said.

“When we were going through things, we had no way to bring that up with supervisors,” said Stephen Lane, an employee at Central Library.

“We’re just learning more and more about the issues and it’s just shocking,” said Michael Torres, a current employee and president of the Library Workers Union.

The union is now calling for Salinas and IndyPL CEO Jackie Nytes to resign.

We reached out to the library about these accusations and they would not provide an interview with someone from the library or board of trustees but provided these statements:

The following can be attributed to The Indianapolis Public Library:

The Library values its longstanding partnership with The Indianapolis Foundation. Although we are saddened by their decision to pause funding, we all want to have a community and a library system where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive. Recent advancements and ongoing efforts related to The Library’s work for racial equity are detailed on our website. While these steps have been necessary and important, they have not gone far enough. Improving the working situation for all of our employees must be our focus now, and we appreciate those who have called attention to that. We welcome an internal climate improvement process to uncover specific issues and concerns so that we can then take appropriate actions to correct them. We look forward to sharing our progress moving forward.

The following can be attributed to the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation:

Since The Indianapolis Foundation has a six month lead time for grant applications, there will be no impact on 2021 programs. We are still evaluating the impact on 2022 programs. The Library is still determining what programs to offer in 2022. We don’t know what the total financial impact will be because we do not know how long the funding pause will last.

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