Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach
|Location||West Palm Beach, FL|
|Access and use|
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 2015 fiscal year (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015) the Library circulated 803,608 items to 106,664 registered card holders. During that same year, the library had 551,674 visitors.
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.
On February 21, 2012, the Mandel Foundation  awarded a $5 million grant to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation  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.
On April 13, 2009, the Library opened in its present facility at 411 Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.
The second floor, which includes both the Technology and TeenSource areas, has 34 PCs in the common area, a teen section with another 4 PCs, and a collection of graphic novels and video games. Also on this floor are music CDs and DVDs and a computer training lab that seats 24, as well as a smaller 12-seat Life Support Lab for computer training and career advice, and in the future, space for 6 digital audio/video studios. Wi-Fi is available to the public, free of charge, throughout the library and City Center.
KidSpace, which includes interactive spaces, 24 Internet PCs plus 7 early literacy PCs, a Homework Center, a parenting collection with comfortable adult seating close to the toddler area, and many books, DVDs 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. Decorated in an elegant yet relaxed Florida style, it contains the library’s adult book collection, reading tables equipped with power outlets, 50 public PCs, the historical Florida Room, and two group study rooms.
The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach offers access to e-books and e-audiobooks through 3M Cloud Library for smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and computers.
Freegal is a service which provides access to the catalog of artists in Sony Music Entertainment. Library cardholders can download five songs a week when they log in with their barcode and PIN. Three hours of streaming music per day is also available.
Finally, Rocket Languages is web-based language tool in which library patrons can choose from 14 languages including English as a Second Language and Sign Language.
Events and Activities
The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach 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. Each month, the library hosts a book club for adults, two for children (and a quarterly family book club), a variety of computer training classes, bilingual events and outreach to the Hispanic community, crafts activities, dance lessons, t'ai chi, Pilates, yoga, expert talks on health, aging, and finances, and various other popular programs. In January 2015, the library began offering a life-long learning program series called IncreMental-U, including talks by Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerebino. The library also 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 three local schools.
The Teens’ and Children’s Homework Centers are each staffed daily by two certified teachers. The Centers feature the latest technology such as MacBook Pros, iPads, and other resources that teenagers and kids would need to complete their homework assignments.
Friends of the Library
The Friends of the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach 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. 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-streamed 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.
The West Palm Beach Library Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization and independent from the City of West Palm Beach, was formed in the year 2000 with the original mission of working collaboratively with the City of West Palm Beach in a private-public partnership to build a new 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 cannot encompass.
In 2009, the Foundation began to revitalize its efforts of raising funds to support and enhance the new Library’s programs, services, technology and collections.
Through a strong partnership with the Mandel Public Library, the West Palm Beach Library Foundation determines where support will have the greatest impact. While public or taxpayer dollars provide for the Library's basic operating budget, they are not sufficient to provide full access to the information, programs and services which members of the community need and value. The Foundation’s support is necessary to help the Library improve its technology, collections, services and programs.
- Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach: "FY15 LIBRARY STATISTICS SUMMARY.xls" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet in public folders)
- “Know Your County: West Palm Beach Public Library” 1962 clipping in West Palm Beach Public Library scrapbook #9, p. 184
- 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.
- "Computers, Wi-Fi, Print, Scan, Copy, Fax". Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach. City of West Palm Beach/Mandel Public Library. 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
- "E-Books & Music". Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach. City of West Palm Beach/Mandel Public Library. 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
- Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach
- Mandel Public Library Digital Collections
- Mandel Public Library Catalog
- Friends of the Library
- West Palm Beach Library Foundation