Foundation History

The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach is the oldest public library in Palm Beach County, Florida.

The Library first began as a Free Reading Room for the City of West Palm Beach in 1895 and got its official start in 1899 in a two-story former Palm Beach Yacht Club building donated by Commodore Charles John Clarke, a Palm Beach yachtsman, and a $100 donation from Henry Flagler.

In the 1960’s, 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.

A century later, West Palm Beach had outgrown its 1960’s-era library building. The facility, located on Clematis near Flagler in downtown West Palm Beach, did not have adequate space for a growing book collection, computers, meeting rooms, and other amenities offered by modern libraries. A new facility was needed to support a growing book collection, computers, meeting rooms, and other modern amenities. It was clear that the Library would also need a new source of funds to supplement municipal funding.

In 2000, the West Palm Beach Library Foundation was formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation to support the library.

The Foundation’s first mission was a private-public partnership with the City of West Palm Beach to build the $30 million City Center Complex in which the Library resides now.

Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach ushers in a new era.

The Foundation has continued to help the Library expand and grow. In 2012, the Mandel Foundation awarded a $5 million grant to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation for the enhancement of library programs and services. The Library became the Mandel Public Library in honor of this generous contribution.

 

We ensure the continuation of the Library's important work.

Today, the Foundation secures financial and in-kind donations to enhance programs, services, collections, and technology that the city’s operating budget cannot encompass. The Foundation is independent from the City of West Palm Beach and free of any political process or influence. Through a strong partnership with the Mandel Public Library, the West Palm Beach Library Foundation determines where support will have the greatest impact. The Foundation’s board, volunteers, and staff work hard to keep raising funds to help the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach evolve from a first-class library into a world-class library.