April 17, 2015

Tattered Cover booksellers to build a live-in library in Colorado


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The live-in library will be located on a ranch in Colorado, about two hours outside Denver.

Two former booksellers from Denver’s Tattered Cover are planning to create a “rural, live-in library where visitors will be able to connect with two increasingly endangered elements — the printed word and untamed nature” according to the New York Times. Jeff Lee and Ann Martin will begin construction this summer, but they will need about 5 million dollars to achieve their dream. They have already purchased the Buffalo Peaks ranch where the live-in library will be located, which is two hours outside of Denver. The buildings they renovate and build are meant to house “32,000 volumes, many of them about the Rocky Mountain region, plus artists’ studios, dormitories and a dining hall.”

“It’s everything, really,” Ms. Martin said of the role the project has played in her life, and that of her husband, Mr. Lee. “It’s not really about us. It’s something for Colorado, for this region.”

The couple was inspired to create the “live-in library” after a visit to St. Deiniol’s, a residential library in north-east Wales that looks like a castle and allows researchers to stay for the night. But the live-in library in Colorado will more “earthy” and “rustic” with a focus on Western history, wildlife, and conservation.

They have poured an estimated $250,000 into their collection of 32,000 books, centering the collection on Western land, history, industry, writers and peoples. There are tales by Norman Maclean; wildlife sketches by William D. Berry; and books on beekeeping, dragonflies, cowboys and the Navajo. The couple said that groupings of books would be placed around the ranch, organized by theme: mining, railroads, fur trade, Native American tribes, natural history, astronomy.

Their library has a broad range of potential audiences, they said, from elementary school pupils to literature enthusiasts and Ph.D.s.

Some of the books that Lee and Martin bought and collected came from a legendary bookseller named Stanley Lewis who owned Parnassus Books on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.