Philly’s Free Library fired Author Event staff before they could shut down

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On Monday, four employees of the Free Library of Philadelphia, who run its renowned Author Events programs, jointly submitted one-month notices of termination. They planned to do their work until the end of June.

They were fired a few hours later.

They say their termination happened so quickly and completely that they assumed future Author Events programs had been canceled, and said so on social media.

“On the afternoon of the 3rd, while we were still doing our work, we discovered that we had lost access to our work emails and were denied access to the building, making it impossible for us to programs effectively,” a statement said. edited by Andy Kahan, Laura Kovacs, Jason Freeman and Nell Mittelstead.

“We sent out the announcement of canceled events amid that uncertainty,” they said.

But the Author Events program was not canceled, according to a statement from The Free Library Foundation, which said the previous social media posts were “unauthorized.”

“The departure of the Author Event series staff was unfortunate,” said Jeffry Benoliel, chairman of the Free Library Foundation. “Based on previous discussions, there was a fundamental disagreement about the strategic direction the Foundation board had chosen.”

The dismissed staff members did not ask questions about the disagreement, but confirmed in their statement that friction between them and the foundation continued.

“We have repeatedly discussed our concerns with the Free Library and the foundation’s leadership,” they said.