The library belonged to the community of several dozen people who have been living illegally in tents and homemade shelters on the Bulb for a number of years.
The fire was reported to the Albany Fire Department about 6:15 a.m. and was put out in about half an hour with the help of three fire engines, said Albany Fire Capt. John Weitzel. No injuries were reported, he said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Weitzel said. There was no sign that it was deliberately set, he said.
Albany Bulb resident Amber Whitson said she was awakened this morning by another Bulb dweller yelling in alarm.
"I woke to the sound of one of the residents yelling that the Library was on fire," she told Patch in an email. "I grabbed my shovel, threw on my boots and ran to the Library is fast as I could. When I got there, the library was already burnt to the ground."
She found a wet rug and started putting out a hot spot, and within minutes the fire department was on the scene, she said.
"We are grateful for the assistance of the personnel of the Albany Fire Department," Whitson said. "Although the residents prevented the fire from spreading, the whole tree that the library was built underneath might have gone up in flames, were it not for their efforts."
Whitson said the library had about 300-400 books and was built in 2006 by two Bulb residents, Jimbow the Hobo and Andy Kreamer, at what had been Jimbow the Hobo's campment.
A visit to the fire scene by Patch in the afternoon found a number of charred volumes scattered amid the ashes that covered the ground.
The Albany City Council decided last year to remove the encampments on the Bulb so that the property can be made into part of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park in line with the city's longterm plan for the Bulb.
The city erected a temporary, 30-bed homeless shelter in November next to the Bulb, which has remained largely unused. In cooperation with the Berkeley Food and Housing Project and the Solano Community Church, the city is also offering assistance to Bulb dwellers in finding alternative housing.
For more information on the city's plan for the Albany Bulb and protests by opponents of the eviction, see our list of recent Patch articles and reader posts about the issue:
Published Jan. 12, 2014, 4:51 p.m., updated Jan. 13, 6:24 p.m.