Norlin Library was designed as the center of the whole campus—both architecturally and functionally—and as the grand focus of Klauder’s master plan for the Quadrangle. The building is quite large, but the gradual build-up in roof heights and use of human-scale elements (windows, chimneys, fountains) keep the building from being overpowering.
When completed in 1939, Norlin was one of the most modern and carefully planned libraries in the nation. The most recent of two major renovations visually erased the massive six-story curved bay window on the east side. The window still exists as the wall of an interior reading room.
The library was named for George Norlin (1871–1942) at the end of his 22 years of university leadership. Norlin began teaching Greek language and literature at CU in 1899. He became acting president in 1917 and assumed the permanent post in 1919.
Although the main entrance to Norlin Library moved to the east side in 1977, the west terrace opening onto the Quadrangle remains the sentimental front of the building.