Outspoken critic of Indianapolis Library board now a member

Stephen Lane, an outspoken critic of the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees, is now a member of board.

The Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners, the appointing authority for the board position, approved Lane’s appointment at Thursday’s meeting. The board voted 6-0 for Lane, with Commissioner Will Pritchard abstaining from the vote.

Lane replaces Judge Jose Salinas. Salinas’ term as board president ended Dec. 31, but he remained a board member until his appointing body made the new appointment. 

Stephen Lane

Lane, an archivist at IUPUI, is also an activist with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which has been highly critical of the library board since its December decision to offer the CEO role to the former leader of the New Orleans Public Library over interim CEO Nichelle M. Hayes. The chosen candidate declined the position, and the board decided to restart the CEO search rather than offer the position to Hayes.

The appointment splits the board between supporters of Hayes and opposition. Pat Payne and Khaula Murtadha are in favor of offering the position to Hayes, while Board President Hope Tribble, Raymond Biederman and Curtis Bigsbee have been opposed.

A previous proposal was brought up Thursday that would have offered Hayes the CEO role and was supported by Payne and Murtadha. Lane said he’s interested in bringing the proposal back, but that he is willing to consider all options moving forward.

Lane has protested at several library board meetings and was escorted out of a City-County Council meeting by police for breaking decorum. 

“I feel like I won’t need to yell, having a position on the board,” Lane told IBJ.

In discussing Lane’s appointment, IPS Commissioner Nicole Carey told her fellow board members that his activism—and any disruption caused by it—was necessary.

“If we do not demonstrate outrage at systemic injustice, who will? Systemic injustice warrants outrage,” Carey said. “And that those that are calling for neutrality, and those that are calling for decorum, in my eyes are dismissing that outrage.”

In a statement, the IPS board called the library “a focal point for systemic racial injustice” and acknowledged that the decision to appoint Lane might be controversial, but said it would move the library system toward being a safe space for minority communities.

When he takes the position, Lane said his work with the Party for Socialism and Liberation might have to take a backseat. But he said his appointment shows his advocacy is effective.

“We definitely see that direct action, direct democracy can bring about the changes that need to be made,” Lane said. “I definitely feel like it had a part to play in leading to this opportunity for me.”

The volunteer library board still has an opening after the resignation of TD Robinson, who stepped down in the wake of of a Dec. 19 board meeting at which Lane and other Hayes advocates called for resignations from all board members except Payne and Murtadha.

In his resignation letter obtained by IBJ through a public records request, Robinson doesn’t mention the meeting or the controversy.

“After prayerful consideration, I tenure my resignation effective immediately to devote more time to my family and personal health. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the community, and may God continue to bless the Indianapolis City Council and the Indianapolis Public Library,” Robinson wrote.

The email was sent to City-County Council President Vop Osili at 6:04 a.m. on Dec. 20. Robinson is the senior pastor of Mt. Paran Baptist Church and was appointed to the volunteer library board by the City-County Council.

Lane said he hopes the council follows the IPS board’s example when they choose an appointee to replace Robinson.

Lane worked at the library for eight years as an activity guide, and later as a special collections librarian. He has a master’s degree in library and information science and public history from IUPUI. He said he hopes to be a voice for library staff.

“It’s a new day for IndyPL, we’re charting a new path. We’re going to go forward cognitively,” Lane said. “We’re gonna go forward and see what kind of changes we can make, see if we can’t calm these controversies down and smooth things over once and for all.”

The process toward his appointment began prior to the renewed controversy, Lane told IBJ. He said he saw that Salinas’ term would be up at the end of 2022 and reached out to former IPS board member Susan Collins last summer. Collins passed his application to board President Venita Moore and Lane recently got the call that he’d been selected.

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20 thoughts on “Outspoken critic of Indianapolis Library board now a member

    1. The Party for Socialism and Liberation, of which Lane is a member, are self-described Marxists that seek to–literally–save the world from capitalism. The accumulation of wealth and power by a vanishingly small number of people who are completely unaccountable to the vast majority is not only an existential crisis but is also contrary to the values of any fair and democratic society. Capitalism has proved that it is incapable of reform, of saving the planet, or of recognizing the fundamental rights of all people.

      The reason socialism is “trending” is simple: self-preservation. We want our children and grandchildren to inherit a livable world in which they are not serfs. Capitalism accomplished remarkable progress (with great sacrifice by the majority), but it has created material conditions where it is no longer beneficial or necessary. We all deserve–and can have–much better.

  1. This guy sounds like a swell human being…. why can’t organizations just focus on doing the task at hand without getting politics and other social issues involved in all of their decision making?

  2. IPS Commissioner Nicole Carey sounds more concerning than Lane. Her statements make Lane’s sound open minded and civil, of course discounting his previous protests at the PL meetings. He will learn how difficult being responsible is on the Board, once the dust settles.

  3. Handing things over to ‘activists’ and a racial spoils system ensures endless strife and mediocrity. We’ll have a lot more dysfunction in City government in the years to come, a lot of people with the means to move will leave, the same crowd that took us down this road will say it’s because of bigotry, and will insist we just need to double down on “the work” that ruins everything it touches.

  4. To Mike C –
    You state that capitalism has created a group of people that are completely unaccountable to the majority and is contrary to a democratic society. As you stated the PSL are Marxists, which are different than Socialist. Marxism envisions a classless society without private party and justifies the forcible seizure of the property and the state. I don’t consider that system democratic and it will ultimately result in leaders who are far less accountable than what we have now. Socialism is one thing but Marxism is extreme. Marxists countries include China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam.

    1. Correct about classless society. Correct about revolution.

      Incorrect about democracy. Maybe you should read their program: https://pslweb.org/program/

      China, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam are different countries with different material conditions.

    2. Socialism is merely Marxism with the veneer of moderation to earn the approval of enough upper-middle-class useful idiots who won’t feel it in their pocketbook, and thus support it, while it guts the working and lower-middle class who they think they are championing. This approach (essentially Fabianism) takes much longer to implode through factioning and (all too often) eugenics, but it can be relied upon to do so. As witnessed with fundamentally capitalistic countries that attempt to mitigate the “barbarism” and “unfairness” with heavy doses of “democratic socialism” (Marxism with the illusion of getting something voted upon)

      Marxist sympathizers like Mike C will always cover for the famines, gulags, and genocides committed under Marxist politics by deflecting (“look at how cruel capitalism is!”) and pointing to an end-state of serfdom, while failing to recognize that neo-serfdom under oligarchy is exactly what happened in Soviet Russia, Cuba, many Latin American counties, Cambodia and Vietnam…and slow-drip serfdom is the goal under Trudeau’s Canada or the ghettoized multiethnic chaos in Sweden under soc-dem leadership for god-knows-how-many decades. Meanwhile, the cruelties of capitalism have an almost unblemished track record of making economies grow and making everyone wealthier, albeit quite unequally. The best way to ensure a “livable world in which [our grandchildren] are not serfs” is not to grow the government for which there is no countervailing power–it’s ludicrous to suggest that this would do anything but ensure even more intense serfdom, since serfdom is based on subjugation under an all-powerful government.

      But since equality is only the delusion of people who think that belonging to the same species makes us fundamentally the same (despite obvious differences in strength, smarts, dexterity, charisma, or any other traits simplistic enough to be reduced to Dungeons and Dragons attributes). And the top-down efforts to ram-rod equality are far crueler and more damaging to individual will than even the worst corporate monopolies.

  5. Socialism, Communism’s stepsister, has worked so well elsewhere. Will the Library board be looking to Venezuela & Nicaragua for policy guidance? Or will they embrace this new board member’s Marxist inclinations (self described) and follow China and Cuba’s lead? Perhaps new statues of Marx and Lenin for the library entrance?

  6. The IPL deserves everything that will happen to it for electing a Marxist to its board. Actions have consequences and there is no positive consequence that comes from this. You made your bed, people, time to lie in it.

  7. Keep in mind, too, that it was the Indianapolis Public School Board of Commissioners that appointed Lane to the Library Board. So, the Marxist perspective also permeates those making decisions about the direction of our public schools. As Michael S. said, “Actions have consequences…”.

    Remember this when IPS requests an increase to your property taxes this May on a ballot initiative to fund an increase in operating and capital expenses.

    1. Absolutely. Duly noted. It is comforting that enrollment at IPS continues to dwindle year after year. Not fast enough (and the township schools are increasingly just as infected with this mindvirus), but further reason to let public schools starve themselves so, hopefully, someday, they can regenerate like a phoenix from the ashes.

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