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Spanish River Library as Gallery

 Photo collage of exterior view of Spanish River library from across a lake and overlooking a patio

The Spanish River Library & Community Center , one of two branches in the Boca Raton Public Library system, opened in 2008.

It’s become a favorite spot due to its stunning lakeside setting, lovely architecture and unusual amenities.

Covering nearly 41,000 square feet, this state-of-the art library has ample space for perks like a:

  • Café
  • Gift shop
  • Catering kitchen for events

For artists, though, the main draw is its dedicated art gallery.


Friends of the Library Gallery

The art gallery began as artist Barbara O'Connell’s brainchild. While the building was under construction, she wondered whether it might contain exhibit space.

Front doors and waiting area outside of the Friends of the Library Gallery

 She approached the Friends of the Boca Raton Library with her idea and they loved it. They even granted her the debut exhibit if she promised to serve as the gallery’s exhibit coordinator.

Fortunately, the library had the perfect space available: an L-shaped open passageway on the second floor leading to both the mezzanine and the rooftop terrace. The gallery also includes entrances to the elevator, stairwell and restrooms, making it a high-traffic area. 

Photo of a patron viewing art in the Friends of the Library Gallery

Since the gallery opened in April 2009, it has hosted both group and solo shows, all lasting seven weeks.

“This venue has been highly popular with artists and photographers in Palm Beach County, not just Boca Raton,” says O’Connell. “The gallery has always been booked two years in advance.”

Exhibits are limited to 2-D works, as fire codes concerning the exits prohibit sculpture.

Patrons have responded well, according to O’Connell. “People do come to observe and leave complimentary comments in our guest book. The library staff tell me that people in the community appreciate having an art gallery in the building.”

And a reporter for the Sun Sentinel who discovered the gallery subsequently wrote an article about Roxene Sloate’s In My Dreams exhibit.

Photo of two walls covered in art

Though sales have been low, 10% of each sale benefits the Friends. It’s a win-win both for the Friends and for the artists, who normally pay gallery commissions between 30-50%. 

With the Friends handling exhibits, there’s no extra burden on library staff. And so for Spanish River Library, it’s a win. The art gallery helps draw people into the library in a space that otherwise might be underutilized.

Photo credits 

Photo of elevator doors with art work on the walls on either side

imls180.for.panel.jpgMany of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida's LSTA program is administered by the Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.