February 17, 2018

Mandel Foundation Gives $5 Million to West Palm Beach Library, Now Renamed

The West Palm Beach Library Foundation (WPBLF) in West Palm Beach, Florida, received a $5 million grant from the Mandel Foundation on February 21. The West Palm Beach Library will be renamed the “Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach,” and representatives of the Mandel Foundation will serve on several committees of the WPBLF.

Mandels and WPBLF Board Executive Committee Members

The Mandels and WPBLF Board Executive Committee Members; photo by Tracey Benson

The gift will be distributed over four years, with $4 million going to the endowment of the WPBLF, whose mission is to help expand programs, enhance services and technology, and strengthen the library’s collections. The library has a $3.7 million operating budget.

Two of the Mandel Foundation’s three founders – Joseph and Morton Mandel – are full-time residents of Palm Beach, along with their spouses, children and grandchildren. Morton Mandel is chairman of the foundation, whose priority funding areas include leadership, management of nonprofits, higher education, Jewish education and continuity, and urban neighborhood renewal.

“We look for a place where we get a high return on our investment,” Morton Mandel told the Palm Beach Daily News. “We anticipate getting a high return on our investment with this gift.”

Morton and his wife, Barbara Mandel, had lived in the town for 50 years but never visited the library until then-mayor Lois Frankel told them the library foundation needed support, according to the Daily News. When the couple toured the library, “we were blown away,” Morton Mandel said. Among the programs that impressed them was a foundation-supported children’s literacy program using therapy dogs like those LJ reported on in early February.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.



  1. Rachel Smith says:

    What a generous gift, but in these situations, I always question why the donor’s name becomes the new name of the recipient. If I gave any amount of money to any organization, I would be embarrassed to have a place renamed after me. It is blatantly unaltruistic at heart, and Mandel’s mention of getting a high return on the investment is especially cringe-inducing. And for the money to come from someone who did not even realize the offerings of this great library? Sad. But that’s business, and I’m glad the library got these needed funds.

  2. Janis Holden says:

    Rachel, I’m stunned at the negativity in your comments. You used the words “Blatantly unaltruistic” and “sad”? God bless these people. How could their motive be anything but kind? In this day and age, when libraries are in such dire straits, these people are saviors. Thank you, Mandel family. I’ll be proud to use this great facility, and am lucky to live in the community.

    • Rachel Smith says:

      Yes, I realize how negative I sound (I stun myself), but this is first and foremost a business decision. I’m just curious about the re-naming. It’s more of a big deal than most people think. There are many reasons for philanthropy. God/Goddess bless all people who use and value libraries.

  3. If you give something, expecting something in return, then you are not giving with a genuine heart. The donation is reduced to trading and bartering. Sounds like a business transaction to me. Donate anonymously if you want to do something genuine. What concerns me is that these types of wealthy donors start dictating how things should be in the library, and how the money should be spent, tailored to their wants. Keep in mind, this is still a PUBLIC library, not a personal private one.