April 19, 2018

Shanika Heyward | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Change Agents

Shanika Heyward


Community Branch Manager, E. 38th Street Branch, Indianapolis Public Library


MLS, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, 2010


@east38indypl (Twitter); e38library (Facebook); indypl.org/locations/east38th

Photo by pauldbestphoto.com

Odds Breaker

A teen single mother, Shanika Heyward began her library career as a work-study student from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. “I faced obstacles…that could have caused me to fail,” she says, “but grace, a strong support system, and a thirst for knowledge have allowed me to beat the odds.”

Heyward’s promotion to manager in 2012 took her to the E. 38th Street branch of Indianapolis Public Library, in the neighborhood where she was raised, where almost 25 percent of the community lives in poverty. Dismayed at how few people used the library, she organized nontraditional events such as Breakfast with a Cop and collaborated with other groups to serve the community.

Using the library’s strategic plan as her road map, she developed a partnership with the Washington Township Adult Education Program, which provides a GED teacher, job coach, and teacher assistant for weekly classes. As of early 2016, there have been 14 graduates.

After seeing many children at the library all day in the summer, she realized they “were missing at least one meal, if not more,” daily. So she partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)–funded Summer Food Service Program to enable branch staff to feed 50–100 kids lunch every weekday.

Heyward also ramped up story time, which had dismal attendance, by adding STEM [science, technology, engineering, math]–based programs that coaxed day-care providers to bring their children. Since many parents in her community work and their young children are in federally funded day care, which requires a STEM-based component, Heyward’s efforts guaranteed the survival of the centers. “These programs are critical to the success [of the day-care centers],” says Heyward, who is extending the program to community centers and school-aged children. Heyward is passionate about giving others the chance to succeed, as she has.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Joanne Eldridge says:


    I am very proud of you for addressing the needs in your community in a positive way. You make me proud to be a librarian. You rock!

  2. Congratulations well-deserved award and recognition. I am sure this is just the beginning of great things to come, for a great librarian.

  3. Richard E. Ashby Jr. says:

    This is a wonderful award for an extraordinary librarian. Congratulations!

  4. Michelle Bradley says:

    Congratulations Shanika! I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more. You are an inspiration for others on engaging with your community and making a real difference. I am proud to know you!

  5. Excellent! So inspiring! Thank you for all you do!

  6. Lisa Dick says:

    Congratulations Shanika on very well deserved recognition! I’m proud to be working with you through ILF.

  7. Rona Dixon says:

    Congratulations Shenika! No one more deserving than you! Thank you for all of your hard work in our community!

  8. Lisa Valdez says:

    A colleague of mine sent me this article and I am glad she did. Shanika it is people like you that have accepted and embraced their true purpose. I commend you for being a life changer and an dedicated yourself to a community who needs these services the most. You made my week!!! May you be forever blessed for all you do.

  9. Cassandra says:

    You are the best! You have literally change the eastside forever! A job well done!