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Grant funds facilitate procurement and preservation projects in Tomlinson Library

Focus on expanding cultural and ethnic inclusivity and digitizing local historical audio and print artifacts

Thanks to federal and state grant funding, Tomlinson Library has several exciting projects in process that will expand cultural and ethnic inclusion and preserve local history in its collections and programming.

CMU's Office of Sponsored Programs assisted library staff in a competitive, peer-reviewed application process for a $10,000 grant from the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the federal government's 2021 American Rescue Plan.

"Libraries have always been places of discovery, ideas, reflections of ourselves and others, and inspiration. This grant is meant to uphold the presence of the humanities within library collections and outreach, and helps our library recover from the financial strains of the Covid-19 pandemic," said Laureen Cantwell, head of access services & outreach at Tomlinson Library. In collaboration with student leaders of CMU's Cultural Inclusion Council, Cy Shimamura and Mahlet "Mae" Mamo, Cantwell and her staff selected new book titles and authors for purchase.

"It ensures that we include the many and various voices of minority, indigenous, and other underserved populations, authors, and stories to our collection. We are focusing on maintaining, broadening, and building our support of underrepresented voices, which helps us further establish and preserve the richness library collections are intended to have, and support the diversity of people, experiences, and thoughts that the world, and our campus, has at its fingertips," Cantwell said.

The grant will also help Tomlinson Library continue hosting its monthly Cultural Café events, where students and staff put on presentations about their experiences with various cultures of the world.

"Just as our Cultural Café event series was established to introduce cultures and customs from around the world, we are working to make sure that our campus community is part of the cafés and that their voices, heritage, realities and perspectives are within our collection and other outreach efforts, too. Diversity has so many faces and we are excited to take intentional steps — through our outreach efforts, through this grant and through our annual collection building efforts — to create and preserve space in the library for these voices to have a home, and aid in the support and development of all minds at CMU," said Cantwell.

Another project made possible by this funding is the digitization of migrant worker scrapbooks from the Grand Valley. The ALA and the NEH awarded this grant to 200 libraries across the nation. Tomlinson is one of three selected in Colorado and the only academic library.

CMU also received $2,152 from the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection to digitize its microfilm collection of Grand Junction Daily Sentinel issues published between 1893-1896. During these years the Sentinel presented a Democratic view of local, state and national events while its rival newspaper, the Grand Junction News took a Republican stance.

Issues of this period include the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and its impact on Colorado silver mines, most of which were located on the Western Slope; water rights and the development of water infrastructure in the local area; the discovery of natural gas and oil on the Western Slope and efforts to establish wells; the construction of the first sugar beet factory on the Western Slope and the development of that agricultural product; sheep and cattle wars and their impacts on the local economy; the fruit harvests, including peach, apple, early grape cultivation, and the export of these agricultural products; events at the local Teller Indian School otherwise lost because the records were destroyed by fire; the local women's suffrage movement; smallpox epidemics; the development of railroads on the Western Slope for economic transport and leisure; and the Bookcliff coal mines.

The Grand Junction News issues from this moment in history have been digitized and preserved as part of the Google News Archive and soon The Daily Sentinel content will be available on the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection website.

CMU's contribution to the wealth of local history preservation continues with a National Historical Publications and Records Commission regrant for the digitization and transcription of oral histories related to CMU. A third-party vendor has been hired to digitize cassette, micro-cassette and reel-to-reel oral histories stored in Special Collections and Archives. Tomlinson Library will also pay current history students to transcribe the recordings. Both written and audio versions will be stored in the Mountain Scholar digital archive.

Most of the oral histories were recorded by students throughout the 1990s and early 2000s as part of the Introduction to Public History course taught by Steve Schulte, PhD. The older oral histories of unknown origin include interviews with early presidents Clifford Houston and Horace Wubben, as well as Mary Rait.

"The oral histories were chosen for the regrant because of the fragility of magnetic audio recordings in addition to their focus on CMU's history. Our hope is that the recordings can be incorporated into the 2025 centennial celebration in various ways," Cantwell said. She is excited to share all these preservation and procurement projects with students, faculty and staff. "Our other hope is that all members of our campus community can discover themselves through the library."


Written by Hannah Odneal