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South Park a home on the range to 20,000 books? No joke says Irish-American bibliophile.

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Though there’s a social media component to this story in the form of websites and blogs, this time “Irish Media Nation” is kicking it old school with traditional media--the printed word in the form of books, lots and lots of books, amassed by a collector in Denver, Co., and hopefully bound for South Park, Co. (yes, that South Park, as seen on TV), to be housed in a facility inspired by a library in Wales. And there is the requite Irish angle here in the form of an Irish American natural historian and book collector, Jeff Lee (yes relation--Jeff is my younger brother). Many years ago he and his wife Ann Martin, who could pass for Irish but is actually of Norwegian/Swedish ancestry, had stayed at the St. Deiniol's Residential Library in northern Wales, a kind of “Bed, Breakfast & Books” for bibliophiles, “a health farm for the mind” in the words of its website.

This ye olde media center concept stayed top of mind for the two when they returned to work at Denver’s legendary Tattered Cover Bookstore, especially as they contemplated just what to do with the over 20,000 books on the natural history of the Rocky Mountains region Jeff had amassed. They envisioned a library and site-specific environmental education center, where people could come to study, explore and even stay for a while. They call their rustic rendering of St.Deiniol’s (http://st-deiniols.com/) the Rocky Mountain Land Library (RMLL).

While nudging their dream along inch by inch, they launched the Rocky Mountain Land Series in partnership with the Tattered Cover, an author series focused on the land and communities of the American West featuring such authors as Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben, Lester Brown, Stewart Udall, and John & Teresa Kerry. With the common goal of connecting kids to nature, the RMLL partnered with Denver Water and the Thorne Ecological Institute to established a 3,000 volume Kids & Educators Library.

RMLL is now working with Colorado’s Park County and the City of Aurora to locate its books, programs and residential land-study center to South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, near the headwaters of the South Platte River. Graduate architecture students from the University of Colorado at Denver are contributing design concepts for turning the ranch buildings into the land library.

The RMLL got a major media push recently when a story on the project appeared in the “Jacket Copy” section of the Los Angeles Times (http://bit.ly/bG1sPU). You can find out more about RMLL at its website http://landlibrary.wordpress.com/. Be sure to check out its St. Patrick's Day blogpost on Irish natural history books at http://bit.ly/coaxS4.

MEDIA PINGS: Launched last February by Dr Martin McAleese, husband of President Mary McAleese, the “Your Country Your Call” competition sought innovative proposals designed to generate prosperity and jobs in Ireland. Digital media consultant Neil Leyden’s proposal to create an Irish Content Industry Association to drive digital development and a media park to attract global content industries was among the five finalists. Winners will be announced in ceremonies at Aviva Stadium on Sept. 17. Paul Cullen covered the story for the Irish Times at http://bit.ly/detxvF. Sept. 17 also marks the deadline for nominations for the 2010 Eircom Spider Awards, technology and digital media awards that honor Irish individuals and organisations for their outstanding achievements online throughout 2010. For more info go to http://www.eircomspiders.ie/. Details for the Satellite Broadband Ireland Digital Media Awards 2011 were announced last week and entries are now being taken at http://www.digitalmedia.ie/enter.html. Winners will be unveiled at a gala black tie event, hosted by Storyful.com’s Mark Little, on Feb. 11, 2011 in the Convention Centre Dublin. Congrats to photographer Nuala Purcell, who will be one of three honorees at the Aisling Irish Community Center’s dinner dance at the Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester, NY on Oct. 2. Born in Kilkeel, Co. Down, Nuala photographs all the New York City regional Irish events for the Irish Voice. As well as her volunteer work with the Aisling Center, she is involved with HOPe (Helping Other People). Nuala travelled to Haiti with Concern Worldwide in 2004 as a member of a U.S. contingency. For more info on the event go to www.aislingcenter.org. To order your tickets to the Irish American Writers & Artists annual Eugene O’Neill Award Celebration on Oct. 18. This year’s honoree is actor Brian Dennehy. To purchase tickets go to http://www.oneillaward.org/....First Irish Theatre Festival is in action all over NYC. Get more info at http://www.1stirish.org/.


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