Two longtime bookstore employees are currently transforming an abandoned Colorado cattle ranch into a "literary 'home on the range' for writers, artists and nature-lovers."
Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin of The Rocky Mountain Land Library project, who've collected more than 35,000 books about nature and the American West between them (they're also married), are planning to finish this "live-in library celebrating the West" during the coming summer.
The library/ranch, in Colorado's Front Range, will also feature dorm rooms, art studios and a dining hall — the idea is for it to be "a place where people can camp and fish, study and explore."
The Land Library will also have a residency program open to artists working in all media, but with "special consideration given to those who work in relation to the land," says project volunteer Christine Parker, in an email. Artists who stay longer will be encouraged to give back to the ranch in some way, too, whether it's by "teaching a workshop, visiting a local school or donating a piece of work."
(There will also be studios for bookbinding, weaving, ceramics and other crafts.)
I asked the Land Library's architect, Ted Schultz, what the completed library would feel like. "The goal of the architecture is to heighten the potential of the project that you may be thinking of — or didn't even know you were thinking of," he wrote in an email. "We want an open-ended and generous interior landscape, one where visitors to the Library realize that they have slowed down and been tapped on the shoulder by several books on topics that they had no idea would captivate. Nature provides a wonderful precedent, and it is our hope that the Library will be ever-evolving."
From our exchange, I also learned that overnights can be taken anywhere from a hammock or sleeping bag to a private room or studio. And the book part of the library will be spread out as well, including in various "book cairns" that visitors can discover while wandering the grounds.
If the idea of being surrounded by books under the Colorado sky sounds appealing...
... the project's Kickstarter campaign, which has raised about half of its $125,000 goal so far (as of March 25), is open until April 8. A donation of $20 also gets you some intriguing mystery postcards.
Update: On April 5, they reached their Kickstarter goal.
Elsewhere in new uses for old structures: these tiny German homes built into a medieval wall.