Domed, Neo-classical building with an Ionic colonnade and bronze lions guarding the portico.
Built in 1899-1900, the building eventually became inadequate and was expanded in 1967 with an L-shpaed addition that wrapped around the original building on the south and north sides. By 1990, the building again had outgrown its requirements and another addition was needed. A referendum failed, but an annonymous donor offered a $5 million matching-funds grant to expand the library. Eventually, the terms were met and a new expansion program began in 1n 1993.
In the 1993 expansion, most of the 1967 addition was removed, exposing the original Waters building once again. The new addition is U-shaped, wrapping around the original building and preserving much of its outward appearance. The original outside walls are exposed inside the new addition.
The original front fašade is preserved on Washington Avenue, including the two Trentanove bronze lions that were placed on guard in 1912. The lions, near mirror images of one another, were placed on October 7, 1912 and unveiled on October 8, 1912.
The original library construction was funded by donations from the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Harris and U.S. Senator Philetus Sawyer. Their names are carved into the stone of the building's fašade, behind each lion. The lions have come to be known as Sawyer and Harris and were officially named after a 1977 contest. The names carved into the building are not those of the lions, but the original donors, but the lions are the beneficiary of the carvings.