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Outgrowing a Library: CMU Expands Tomlinson because of Expanding Enrollment

Tags: Stories of Impact

Tomlinson Library, Colorado Mesa University

The enrollment at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) has grown from an initial 39 students in Houston Hall in 1925 to a campus which serves more than 10,000 students. In the last eight years alone, CMU has nearly doubled its student enrollment. The high level of matriculation, while a good thing for the university and education in the state of Colorado, created strain on many spaces on campus, especially Tomlinson Library. In 2015, the college began the process of renovating its library to meet the needs of its ever changing and growing student body.    

Constructed in the mid-1980s, the original Tomlinson Library required 21st century spaces to better serve current students, faculty and Mesa County community. Included in the $26 million renovation was an increase in the number of research and study spaces, as well as an expanded and more accessible computer lab. Now, students who don’t have access to computers or laptops will be able to use the library’s accommodations, a step that has launched CMU into the forefront of Universities that provide 21st century technological resources.


Funding for the library project originated from repurposed grant dollars initially intended to provide scholarships for students in the Northwest Council’s Reach Your Peak pipeline. The Northwest Council, part of El Pomar Foundation’s Regional Partnership, took on the Reach Your Peak pipeline project in 2012 in an effort to improve the average level of education of adults in the Northwest Region. While the three-phase educational pipeline continues to be a success with support from the Council, the Northwest Council sought areas for more immediate impact. In addition to a $50,000 capital grant from the Council, El Pomar Foundation Trustees contributed $100,000 to the project.

With much needed upgrades and expansion, the Tomlinson Library can continue to support communities in Mesa County and northwestern Colorado. The mission of providing a wide range of educational opportunities for Coloradans resonates strongly with El Pomar, and we are honored to be able to support CMU’s efforts to adapt to a growing and changing student population.