Each year the Library Journal honors a small, select number of library leaders as Movers and Shakers; this year that elite group includes Nichelle M. Hayes, MPA, MLS, ’14. Hayes is currently the founding leader of the Center for Black Literature and Culture (CBLC) at the Indianapolis Public Library and a graduate of the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI library science master’s program.
Andrea Copeland, Ph.D., department chair and director of the Library and Information Science master’s program at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, says of Hayes, “I am thrilled to see Nichelle’s ongoing contributions to the advancement of the profession acknowledged in this way. The department is grateful for the mentoring she provides to our students and for her support in creating the Wilma Gibbs Moore Endowed Graduate Fellowship, intended to increase representation of persons of color within the profession. Congratulations and thank you!”
In her five years at CBLC, Hayes has been instrumental in highlighting the culture and accomplishments of the African Diaspora to the Greater Indianapolis community, from welcoming 2000 people to the opening to becoming a third place—aside from work and home—for informal and formal gatherings.
Hayes sees the library as more than just books, offering access to information via classes, databases, computers, and e-resources that benefit the community. “Libraries are especially beneficial for the youth in our community; a place to research, learn and grow. Best of all, the resources are FREE to community members. Libraries are an amazing ROI—return on investment,” she says.
Hayes’ service to the Indianapolis community began as a teenager at her local church and Girl Scout Council. But she says her most important contribution has been spotlighting the importance of Black Indianapolis to everyone in the community and partnering with organizations, giving them space for programs. She is incoming president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) in 2022 and is currently serving as vice president of that organization. Her future plans include increasing the number and prominence of Blacks in the library profession on an international level.
To others considering a career path in librarianship, Hayes says, “For our profession to progress and thrive we must immediately change our trajectory. We need to embrace, support and encourage the inclusion of historically excluded groups into our profession. We cannot adequately serve populations that we don’t represent without those lived experiences. Seek out the history of Black, Indigenous, People of Color—BIPOC—library luminaries such as Effie Lee Morris, Dr. E.J. Josey, Thomas E. Alford Sr., BCALA Founders, as well as Dorothy Porter Wesley and the first Black librarian in the state of Indiana, Lillian Childress Hall.”