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A Haven for Readers

Over the years, Jeffrey Lee and his wife, Ann Martin, have amassed more than 32,000 volumes, centering the collection on Western land, history, industry, writers and peoples. Why? Because they wanted to create a haven for readers like the residential library they once visited in Wales.

Lee, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1978 with a degree in geology, worked for the federal government on the U.S. Geological Survey. Although he was based in Denver, his work updating topographical maps took him to remote sections of the West, opening his eyes to the beauty of the region. His next career move pursued a different passion: books.

He worked at the Tattered Cover bookstore, where he met his wife. The two traveled to England in the late 1990s and spent part of the trip at a residential library called Gladstone Library. As he says in an interview with the Meriden, Connecticut, MyRecordJournal, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a residential library in Colorado? We have such great access to mountains and prairies; it’s more or less wild land, and our collection of books would be a great combination.”

From that idea, the Rocky Mountain Library was born. According to a story in The New York Times, they have invested an estimated $250,000 in their collection. In 2013, they found the property to house their collection at Buffalo Peak Ranch— about two hours from Denver. Jeff said, “As important as the books have always been, the place is really important too. It’s just this wonderful, quiet landscape, and it doesn’t take long before it gets into your bones; this slowing down more to nature’s rhythms. I think people need that.”

Renovations to the buildings on the ranch begin this summer, and the two hope to open the library, along with artists’ studios, dormitories and a dining hall, not just to academics, but to birders, hikers and others to study and savor the West.

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