Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach

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Mandel Public Library
of West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach Public Library.jpg
Established 1895
Location West Palm Beach, FL
Size 169,269 items
Access and use
Population served 99,919
Other information
Budget $3,993,567
Director Christopher Murray
Staff 33.5 FTEs

The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach (formerly the West Palm Beach Public Library) is the public library of the City of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Library will issue a free library card to anyone who lives, works, learns or plays in West Palm Beach, with presentation of photo identification. In April 2009, the library relocated into a new facility in City Center in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, which is 2.5 times larger than the previous building. In the 2010 fiscal year (October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2010) the Library circulated 977,984 items to 91,427 registered card holders, representing an increase of 29% over the previous fiscal year.[1] During that same year, the library welcomed 643,568 visitors.[1]


The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach is the oldest public library in Palm Beach County, Florida. It began as the Free Reading Room for the City of West Palm Beach, located in the Union Congregational Church at the corner of Datura and Olive Streets. In 1895, Commodore Charles John Clarke, a Palm Beach yachtsman, donated a two-story former Palm Beach Yacht Club building to West Palm Beach. The collection from the Free Reading Room and a $100 donation from Henry Flagler created the first city library.

On January 26, 1924, the City’s first permanent library, an artistic Spanish style building, opened alongside the Women’s Club and a band shell in Flagler Park, facing the Intracoastal Waterway. In spite of severe damage from the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane which left more than half of the books destroyed and two feet of lake water and mud on the floor, the Memorial Library remained open, serving the residents of West Palm Beach until spring 1962.

On April 30, 1962, a new city library designed by architect Norman Robson, was dedicated and opened with much flourish and public comment over its modern, colorful, exterior frieze panels. The name of the library at 100 Clematis Street was changed to the West Palm Beach Public Library. It was planned to allow for expansion for at least twenty years.[2]

On February 21, 2012, the Mandel Foundation [3] awarded a $5 million grant to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation [4] for the enhancement of library programs and services. At this time, the West Palm Beach Public Library was renamed the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach.[5]


On April 13, 2009, the Library opened in its present facility at 411 Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.

The first floor contains 50 categories of new books, books on CD, Playaways, periodicals, Book Sale items, and a café.

The second floor, which includes both the Technology and Teen area, has 34 PCs in the common area, a teen section with another 4 PCs and a collection of graphic novels and video games. It also has music CDs and DVDs, and a computer training lab that seats 24. There are also “future” spaces for 6 digital audio/video studios and a smaller 12-seat computer training lab intended for digital photography or smaller computer classes. Wi-Fi is available to the public, free of charge, throughout the library and City Center.

KidSpace which includes interactive spaces, a Homework Help area, a parenting collection with comfortable adult seating close to the toddler area, and many books, CVDs and CDs is on the third floor.

The meeting room suite, also on the third floor, has a 150-seat auditorium with theatrical lighting and a projection and sound system that can accommodate movies, theatrical productions and live music events. It also contains a 50-seat meeting room, a large conference room that holds 16 and a small conference room that holds 8. The two larger meeting rooms are equipped for audio-visual demonstrations. These rooms are available to the public for meetings or other types of gatherings when not in use for library programs.

The fourth floor is the Grand Reading Room. It is 270 feet (82 m) long with a 35-foot (11 m) high barrel-shaped ceiling that gives it a sense of grandeur.[citation needed] Decorated in an elegant yet relaxed Florida style[citation needed], it contains the library’s adult book collection, reading tables equipped with laptop plug-ins, 50 public PCs, the historical Florida Room, and two group study rooms.[6]

Events and Activities[edit]

The West Palm Beach Public Library provides programs, classes, lectures, interactive experiences, training, and workshop opportunities. Some of the library’s guest authors have included: Barbara Taylor Bradford, Daniel Silva, Jackie Collins, Senator George McGovern, James Patterson, and Nicholas Sparks.[citation needed] Each month, the library hosts three book clubs, a variety of computer training classes, bi-lingual events and outreach to the Hispanic community, French and Spanish language conversation groups, crafts activities, ballroom dancing, t'ai chi, pilates, yoga, meditation, expert talks on health, aging, and finances, and various other popular programs. The library enjoys numerous community partnerships which enhance the library’s wide variety of activities. Among the numerous and varied children’s and teen events are the “Dog Tales” with specially trained therapy dogs that will “listen” to a child reading and gaming and animation workshops. The “Let’s Read” program provides specially trained volunteers to read stories to pre-kindergarten through grade 2 children in four local schools. The library promotes programs through a variety of social media including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter (with the library’s own “Twitterbrarian”) and the Library Currents e-newsletter.

Friends of the Library[edit]

The Friends of the West Palm Beach Public Library was founded in 1995 and was reconstituted in 2008 to support the new facility. The Friends organization is a group of community library supporters aiding and initiating library projects and programs. Members receive The Friends’ newsletter "Among Friends", early notice of registration for certain events, and opportunities to share their talents.[7] Among the many library programs sponsored by the Friends organization, examples include the Friday Night Jazz concerts, which have attracted as many as 350 attendees per performance, and the 92Y Live programs. Live from NY's 92nd Street Y (92YLive) is a live, satellite-broadcast event that allows people all over the USA to access the Y's cultural and educational programs. The programs provide an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the presenters, as if they were in the New York audience.[8]

Library Foundation[edit]

The West Palm Beach Library Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization and independent from the City of West Palm Beach, was formed to support the West Palm Beach Public Library. The Foundation, free of any political process or influence, secures financial and in-kind donations to enhance programs, services, collections and technology that the city’s operating budget can not encompass.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b West Palm Beach Public Library: "Updated Library Statistics Summary 2009-2010" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet in public folders)
  2. ^ “Know Your County : West Palm Beach Public Library”1962 clipping in West Palm Beach Public Library scrapbook #9, p. 184
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Nelander, John (March 18, 2014). "Mandel foundation gives $10M to Holocaust museum". Retrieved 5 October 2014. In 2012, the Mandel Foundation gave $5 million to the public library in West Palm Beach. Last fall, the Mandels donated $5 million toward the construction of the Mandel Jewish Community Center on Hood Road in Palm Beach Gardens. 
  6. ^ "Computers". Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach. City of West Palm Beach/Mandel Public LIbrary. 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°42′49″N 80°03′16″W / 26.7135°N 80.0544°W / 26.7135; -80.0544