Setting up a Porch Library

basement

As the Land Library renovates Buffalo Peaks Ranch, we’ve had to face up to the necessity of placing over 30,000 books in storage. We know it’s only temporary, but still, we’re anxious to start shelving & sharing these wonderful books. (The photo above, courtesy of The Denver Post, represents just one small corner of one of our donated storage sites).

When we have public tours at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, we break out a few choice titles, and set up a “porch library” at the Main House for visitors to enjoy. Whenever we put out the books we think of the titles we have (yes, alas in storage) from the great prairie photographer Solomon D. Butcher. Many of Butcher’s photographs are of prairie families in front of their old sod homes. Often they display prized possessions. As Butcher noted in this classic shot, the young mother photographed below wanted to reassure her family back east that all was good, and yes, they did own an organ:

solomon butcher

The David Hilton Family, near Weissert, Nebraska 1887

We feel the same way every time we set out the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Porch Library!

porch layout

All is good, and yes we have many wonderful, inspiring books to share!

When we set the books up we strive to feature a breadth of titles from many diverse disciplines, all focused on people and the land.

artist land

A good cluster on a tiny table, representing the Land Art movement, Lisa Hamilton’s Deeply Rooted (on unconventional farms), and one of our favorite collections of essays, Merrill Gilfillan’s  Rivers and Birds.

porch library

Books on trout (though the ranch is actually at 9,000 feet!), A Literary History of the American West, The Ecology of Running Waters, The Southern Cheyennes, The Natural History of Pollination, J. Frank Dobie’s The Voice of the Coyote (with illustrations by the great Olaus Murie!), and many more.

trout, mining, pronghorn

Caddisflies, mining, pronghorns, Henry Beston’s wonderful Herbs and the Earth, the Handbook of Indian Food and Fibers of Arid America, bats, ants, snakes, and the alpine tundra too.

trout

Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West, Ramon Adams’ Western Words, three volumes from Henry David Thoreau’s Journals, and a book that asks a very good question,                 Can Poetry Save the Earth?

It’s always enormous fun to see people browsing through the books, suddenly reaching out to a book they’ve never seen before!

The Abeytas, from just up the road, take a moment to sample the porch library.

The Abeytas, from just up the road, take a moment to sample the porch library.

We also put out a small desk, and make something of a still life, suggesting the quiet creativity the ranch can inspire.

sherrie york w link

And we always lay out one of Sherrie York’s wonderful sketchbooks. Do yourself a favor and visit this remarkable young artist’s beautiful website!

In many ways the Rocky Mountain Land Library is already up and running at Buffalo Peaks Ranch:

Porch Library 2014: Casey Cruikshank consults Kaufman's Field Guide to Birds of North America. By the end of the day, Casey added a half dozen new birds to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Bird List (the handy chalkboard posted on the main house's front wall).  photo by Kalen Landow

Porch Library 2014: Casey Cruikshank consults Kaufman’s Field Guide to Birds of North America. By the end of the day, Casey added a half dozen new birds to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Bird List (the handy chalkboard posted on the main house’s front wall). photo by Kalen Landow

We’re looking forward to an ambitious ranch renovation this summer. Our goal is to make three of the core buildings (including the Main House) ready for books, programs, and overnight guests. There are many ways you can help. If you would like lend your support in any way that you can, please let us know!

mark beardsley

“Buffalo Peaks Ranch is a beautiful spot of land, the perfect home for a library dedicated to the conservation and appreciation of the land.”
Los Angeles Times

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4 thoughts on “Setting up a Porch Library

  1. We would like to be on your mailing list and want to support your efforts and visit this summer. Do you have a fund raising arm yet?

    • Pam –we have your email, and we’re really happy to be connected with you! Please forgive our slow reply — the NY Times wave was amazing — and so inspiring to hear from people like you. We’ll be finalizing the summer Ranch event/tour/workday schedule soon, and we’ll send that to you. We would love to get you to the ranch! (our fundraising is mostly limited to our Home page PayPal button, or via our office location: 2550 W. 39th Ave, Denver, CO 80211 — and we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization!

  2. You will need a Librarian for that collection at some point. Have you had anyone apply? I’ll put my name in the hat. 🙂

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