How An Old Ranch In South Park Will Become A Home For 30,000 Books

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Rocky Mountain Land Library
The Rocky Mountain Land Library is located at the historic Buffalo Peaks Ranch near Fairplay.

Jeff Lee and Ann Martin are longtime employees at the Tattered Cover, the Denver bookstore. Over the years, the married couple collected more than 30,000 books about nature and the west. Most of the books are now in storage, but if all goes according to plan, by next summer, they’ll have a new home at the Rocky Mountain Land Library, located at a former ranch near Fairplay.

They spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. Edited highlights are below.

On being inspired by a visit to Gladstone’s Library, a residential library in Wales:

Jeff Lee: “As soon we got back from England, we started looking for the right site, the right community. And we felt, given that our books were about the natural world, what a great place to locate, in rural Colorado.”

On the value of spending time in the natural world:

Jeff Lee: “One of our goals at Buffalo Peaks Ranch is for people to leave the ranch, go back to their home place, sort of with a renewed interest in the place they live."

On starting a residential library in the age of e-books:

Ann Martin: “Being booksellers for the last 30 years, we’ve gone through the whole turmoil of ‘death of the book,’ feeling sort of grim about things. But the last few years, I think all of us in the book business feel like, that’s not going to be the case. I think both forms are going to live side by side, and I think a place like a residential library can give people a lift and give people a sense of place. I think the physical book is important because people need that sort of physical connection with things. And I think we’re feeling more optimistic, even in the bookselling world.”