Alameda's was one of the first three library buildings in California funded by Andrew Carnegie in 1899, the first year of the grants in this state. Its construction was delayed while citizens tried to raise additional private funds for a "proper edifice," and finally in 1901 the grant was increased to $35,000. Prominent San Francisco architects William Wilcox and John Curtis designed the Classical Revival temple style building whose special features include its brick columns, stained glass windows, barrel vault atrium ceiling, and arched skylight. Builders were C.H. Foster and Son of Alameda.