The Pitkin County Library has plans for a new community meeting room as part of the upcoming library renovation. Now, the room will have a name that many long-time Aspen residents will recognize: The William R. Dunaway Community Meeting Room.
After the library recently received a gift of $1.2 million from Barbara Allen Dunaway, the library board approached her with an idea of making a lasting commemoration of the gift by naming the new library meeting room after her late husband, Bil Dunaway.
Bil Dunaway owned, wrote for, edited and published The Aspen Times from 1956 to 1994.
“Barbara gave this money to the library with no strings attached,” said Kathy Chandler, who has been a county librarian for 34 years. “The library board approached her about honoring Bil, and she liked the idea. A lot of people credit Bil for the way our government works in Aspen. He was an amazing journalist.”
Chandler said that Barbara Dunaway still volunteers at the library in the technical services area.
“I love Barbara,” Chandler said. “She has a great sense of humor.”
John Wilkinson, the president of the Pitkin County Library Board of Trustees, said the one thing Barbara Dunaway wanted was the word “community” included as part of the title for the new meeting room.
“That’s because Bil was such a big part of this community,” Dunaway said. “He saw Aspen as one big community and treated it that way. His focus was always on this community.”
Wilkinson said the board was thrilled to bestow the honor of naming the new meeting room in Bil Dunaway’s name.
“Back in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, all you had to do was walk into The Aspen Times building,” Wilkinson said. “It was an eclectic bunch, and Bil was definitely the captain of that ship. He really served the Aspen community as our watchdog. He always fought to make Aspen a better place for everyone.”
Wilkinson said while the library is still going through the planning process for the upcoming expansion, they’re moving forward with hopes of beginning construction next June. The goal is to complete the project in 2015, but there are many factors that still need to be addressed.
“The library is going to be much more than a place for books,” he said. “It’s going to be a real community hub, and the new William R. Dunaway Community Meeting Room is a big part of our plans.”