Philly Mayor’s Office Learns Not to Mess With Librarians

City Hall appears to be walking back a rather puzzling new policy. Plus, the strangest news you'll hear all week. (We hope.)

The Free Library of Philadelphia

The Free Library of Philadelphia (Getty Images)

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Philadelphia Librarians Win Battle Against Mayor’s Office

Things have been a little hectic in the Mayor’s Office this week. More so than Mayor Parker probably expected.

Philadelphia Managing Director Adam Thiel, a Parker appointee, recently sent an all-caps email out to all city departments alerting them to a new communications policy, a policy basically that boiled down to: Don’t say anything to the public without getting the language approved by the Mayor’s Office first. And by “anything,” the city appeared to mean anything. Don’t tweet. Don’t post things on Instagram or Facebook. Don’t hang a flier up in the hallway of the neighborhood library. All things that city departments had been doing routinely without mayoral oversight.

It was an odd new policy, to be sure. It left a lot of departments scratching their heads. And those fearless boosters of Free Speech known as librarians weren’t taking it sitting down.

Through their Instagram accounts, some local libraries began a rather amusing campaign calling out the Mayor’s Office for this silliness. This went on all day Monday and Tuesday. And by Wednesday morning, it appeared that said campaign had been effective.

Around 9 a.m., the Fishtown Library took to Instagram with the following update:

We’re back, friends! We are so grateful for our community and everyone who showed up for Philly libraries over the last few days. Less than 28 hours after a big policy shift, we have been advised that we are able to communicate on our social media, print flyers, and e-newsletters just as we always have been.

We know being able to communicate directly with the communities we serve, for the good news and the not-so-good news, is extremely important. Thank you for fighting alongside us to preserve this important part of our community-focused work. Let’s never lose sight of the fact that our public services are worth fighting for!

Love, your friends at the Fishtown Community Library

And a quick survey of the Instagram accounts of other local libraries show us that things are, indeed, back to normal.

It’s long been said that the first rule of Philly mayoral politics is: Don’t cross the labor unions. I think what we just learned is that the second rule is this: Don’t mess with the librarians.

News We Weren’t Exactly Expecting

Just when I was wrapping up for the day yesterday, I received this alert from the Philadelphia Police Department about an incident they described as “unusual.” That’s certainly one way to put it:


PHILADELPHIA, PA – February 6, 2024 – The Philadelphia Police Department is actively investigating an unusual incident that occurred today at the Mutter Museum, located on the unit block of S. 22nd St in the 9th District.

At approximately 11:36 AM, museum staff reported receiving a package containing two preserved fetuses in a glass jar. An investigation was immediately launched, and the Philadelphia Police Department is working to determine the source of the package. The fetuses have been turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Officer for further investigation.

The Philadelphia Police Department encourages anyone with information related to this incident to contact Central Detective Division at 215-686-3093 or call/text the PPD tipline at 215-686-TIPS (8477).

Okay then.

Local Talent

Prolific Philadelphia chef Michael Schulson is expanding his empire yet again — this time with not one but two restaurants on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. One leans into seafood, the other into the Jewish deli experience. Both will be familiar to Philadelphians. Foobooz has more on this development here.

By the Numbers

40: Maximum years this Philadelphia man could get in federal prison if convicted on charges that he made antisemitic and Islamophobic threats anonymously by phone to eight people.

$2,000: What you’ll have to spend if you want to own this one-of-a-kind “embroidered clown buck” featuring Ben Franklin on the $100 bill with a rainbow wig. Available at a gallery in Northeast Philly. My birthday is in April.

And from the Scalpel-Please Sports Desk …

Joel Embiid had his meniscus surgery yesterday morning.

Sir, believe us when we say from the bottom of our hearts: The entire City of Philadelphia hopes you’ll get well soon. While we wait for the patient to recover, the rest of the Sixers (minus the rest of the wounded) will host the Warriors tonight at 7:30. And Tyrese Maxey is questionable with an illness. Woe is us.

Any College Hoops News?

Just a fairly unsatisfying game in which 18th-ranked Dayton came to call at St. Joe’s. The Hawks were up by as much as 11 and ended the first half up four, 38-34. But they got outscored 60 to 41 in the second in what turned into a 94-79 loss. Too bad; they’d won five of their last six and were on a roll. Tonight’s City Six schedule sees St. Louis playing at La Salle at 6:30 and Villanova visiting Xavier at 7 p.m.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.