Library Charisma


An old sheep barn and loafing sheds will one day house books. Credit Allison Amend

It has not been long since our last linkage out to a “library love” story. But this one is combined with a travel/journey and a conservation ethos–themes we enjoy seeing addressed together. Worth a read, thanks to the Travel section of the New York Times:

I am perched on a slippery roof ridge at the Buffalo Peaks Ranch in the rain, feet sliding on ancient asphalt shingles atop rotting plywood decking, tethered only by a rope. For fun.

With me on the roof are five other volunteers who are donating their time and brawn to create a live-in rural library in Colorado, helping the booksellers Jeff Lee and Ann Martin realize their dream.

In the course of their 20 years at the independent Denver bookstore Tattered Cover, Mr. Lee and Ms. Martin have accumulated more than 32,000 volumes on the American West (my first novel, “Stations West,” is among them). Seeking to share the books, and their love of Colorado, the pair, who are married, have leased the Buffalo Peaks Ranch, about two hours from Denver, to house their collection.

But before the property, which they are calling the Rocky Mountain Land Library, can become a haven for lovers of the West and Western literature, it must be restored. A working ranch from 1862 until the mid-1980s, the buildings at Buffalo Peaks have fallen into disrepair. Enter HistoriCorps, a service organization dedicated to historical preservation.

Various funding sources and grants supply materials and professional help, but volunteers like me make up the bulk of the work force. Last summer, in addition to Buffalo Peaks Ranch, HistoriCorps volunteers worked on preserving former slave quarters in Virginia, an archaeology museum and field school in Michigan, and a mining town in Colorado, among other projects.


Steve Harris demonstrates proper roofing techniques. Credit Allison Amend

The ranch currently consists of four dilapidated and waterlogged residential buildings and two enormous, sun-dappled barns for horses, cattle and sheep, now the residences of birds and rodents. There are two tasks at hand — we HistoriCorps volunteers are to strip the bunkhouse of its asphalt shingles, shore up the roof and reshingle it. We are also to reshingle the much steeper and higher cookhouse with historically accurate cedar shingles…

Read the whole story here.

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