Free Library of Philadelphia’s Author Event staff unexpectedly resigns, but the event series remains

The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation’s Author Event staff has undergone a major change, but the foundation’s board chairman says the change will not affect planned events. 

In less than 24 hours, rumors began circulating on social media saying the staff running the library’s author events resigned and that the series of events were canceled. According to the board, that is not entirely true. 

The foundation said one of the staff members who resigned sent an unauthorized email to to the Free Library Foundation’s mailing list claiming its Philadelphia Author Events were canceled.

Jeffry Benoliel, The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation’s Board Chairman, clarified the confusion in the following statement sent to FOX 29 Tuesday: 

"Over the past day, there has been a lot of confusion regarding the Author Event series offered by the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation ("Foundation"). The staff running this program unexpectedly resigned on Monday, and one individual of this team sent an unauthorized note indicating that our beloved Author Event Series is canceled for the remainder of the year. This is simply not the case. All events will take place as scheduled."

The library’s Author Events, which is celebrating its 30th year, has helped the foundation build funding support to fulfill its commitment to better serve the Philadelphia community. 

"The departure of Author Event series staff was unfortunate," the statement continued. 


The big question remains, why would the entire Author Event series staff resign? 

The statement sent by Chairman Benoliel said though there were no exit interviews, prior conversations suggested that there was a "fundamental disagreement" on the strategic direction that the board had chosen to go in. 

"This involved the Foundation untangling itself from the day-to-day operations of the Free Library of Philadelphia (Library) now that it was fully staffed, bringing on new leadership at the Foundation to better execute on our philanthropic mission and finally, aligning cost structure with current revenue generation in support of the many programs the Foundation funds," the statement read. 

Benoliel said that the board is pleased with its results with Monique Moore Pryor leading the foundation and Kelly Richards leading the library. 

Through the support of the Mayor’s office and City Council, the chairman said they’ve enabled six-day service at the neighborhood libraries and parkway by restoring funding for 2024. 

The Library team under Richards has hired hundreds of new employees and under Moore Pryor’s Foundation team, they say it’s been a "transformational year."

The Foundation has plans to bring additional resources in development and marketing and most importantly, restaff the Author Events series team.

During spring, the Author Events series featured New York Times bestseller and Emmy-award winner George Stephanopoulos, 17-time Grammy Award winner Sting in conversation with Diane Foley and Colum McCann, National Book Award finalist Amy Tan, New York Times nonfiction bestseller Stacey Abrams, and more.

"The Foundation is strongly committed to continuing to offer the Author Events series as it has in past. We will restaff and continue to bring to the community noted authors and programs.  In summary, the Foundation Board is in full support of our leadership and that of Kelly Richards at the Library and is looking forward to even brighter future," the statement concluded.