A traditional library offers books that can transport readers to different worlds. A land library does the opposite: Instead of containing a broad scope of reading material, it's limited to books about the land just beyond its walls.
That's the model followed by the Rocky Mountain Land Library in Colorado, a project recently profiled by CityLab. At the Land Library, artists, writers, researchers, and anyone else interested in the area can come to enjoy immersive retreats. Inside the buildings they'll find beds, dining facilities, and about 35,000 books on the culture, landscapes, and wildlife of the American West. If guests wish to further their education on the subject, all they have to do is walk outside and explore the sprawling former cattle ranch the lodge is built on.
The library's founders, Jeff Lee and Ann Martin, came up with the idea after visiting a library-hostel hybrid in Wales. As employees of the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, they were both excited by the thought of creating a library that connected travelers to where they were staying.
After finding the perfect ranch to launch their experiment and raising money for renovations via Kickstarter, Lee and Martin are now in the process of preparing the property for visitors. The first building—which will include bedrooms, a kitchen, a classroom, and the start of the library—is set to be finished by the summer of 2018. Until then, Lee and Martin are using the space to host summer workshops for people coming to Colorado in search of inspiration.