Completed in 1919, the library was constructed with a $10,000 grant from industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Calexico's Woman's Improvement Club and the Farmers and Merchants Club encouraged the city to apply for the Carnegie funds. In order to receive a Carnegie grant, the city was required to demonstrate a need, provide a suitable site and agree to provide operating support through local taxes. Over 2500 library buildings were constructed worldwide with Carnegie grants.
The original master plan designed by the architectural firm of Allison & Allison called for this building to be part of a larger "Intellectual Park" that was to include the library, schools, churches, and civic buildings. The library, designed in the mission revival style, served as the city's public library from 1919 to 1986.
When threatened with demolition in 1993, preservationist and the citizens of Calexico united to save this building. In doing so, they reaffirmed the historic importance of the Carnegie Library and its significance for future generations.