ELi has learned East Lansing Public Library Director Kristin Shelley and Assistant Director Brice Bush have both submitted resignations to the City of East Lansing. These departures were confirmed in a brief phone call with ELPL Trustee Amy Zaagman and add to the wave of leadership resignations in the city
Late this week, the ELPL Board of Trustees announced a special meeting for Monday, June 26, without a posted agenda. Zaagman said interim library leadership would be discussed at Monday’s meeting and confirmed Shelley’s date of departure is July 7 and Bush’s is July 5.
Shelley shared her future plans in a public Facebook post dated June 15.
“I will begin as the new director of the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville, Indiana on July 31,” she wrote. “I am thrilled to be working with the staff and the board to open a new branch and to expand the library system. I love building projects and expanding library services. This move also takes me closer to family, which means the world to me.”
She went on to thank those she worked with in East Lansing while sharing accomplishments from her tenure.
“You welcomed this outsider, who moved here from Columbus, Ohio, with open arms,” Shelley wrote. “I have had and continue to have good working relationships with city leadership. From [City Manager] Ted Staton to George Lahanas to Randy Talifarro, many councilmembers and colleagues, I have had tremendous support professionally and personally.”
Shelley, who began her tenure as director in 2011, named among her accomplishments “the library renovation; two millage campaigns (the last one in Nov. 2022 passed with nearly 85% approval); thought-provoking, diverse programs; hosting East Lansing Welcomes the World; adding self-checkout; the expansion of digital resources and platforms; the addition of the Library on the Go; the creation of the Maker Studios; collaborations with area schools, business, organizations and MSU; hosting the One Book, One Community author receptions and moderating the discussions with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Matthew Desmond; navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic; going fine-free; the addition of 24/7 lockers; the addition of a mural and banners on the exterior of the building; new sidewalks; a new HVAC system; a healthy fund balance; and so much more.”
When asked for Bush’s reason for stepping down, Zaagman declined to comment.
ELi has reached out to Bush, ELPL Trustee President Polly Synk, and representatives of the union of non-supervisory workers of the ELPL for comment. (Contract negotiations are currently ongoing.) If received, this article will be updated.
The last six months of Shelley’s tenure have seen unusually high levels of controversy. In January, Shelley called the police on a Black teen whom she wrongfully accused of causing damage in the library bathroom, leading to an East Lansing Human Rights Commission civil rights complaint against her from the teen’s mother. Shelley also faced intense questioning from ELPL trustees concerning available financial accounts of which at least some board members weren’t made aware.
The City of East Lansing has been struggling with the loss of directors and assistant directors of many departments in a steady wave of resignations since late last year. Departments impacted include Public Works, the City Clerk’s office, Finance, Human Resources, Planning and Development, Communications, Parks & Rec, the Police Department and now the library.
Update, 7:45 p.m.: The union provided the following statement: “We are deeply committed to the library and its service to our community. To that end, we formed our union to build better conditions for library workers, and to have a say in the direction of the library. Because of our efforts, we are happy to report that we are wrapping up a contract that includes noteworthy increases to library worker pay, especially for those at the bottom. We remain committed to building a strong library together with the community. We look forward to collaborating with anyone who shares our vision of a community oriented library staffed by justly compensated, fairly treated, and respected library workers.”