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How do you celebrate a 105th birthday? With cake, ice cream, and, when Edith Nettleton's the birthday girl, a party at the Guilford Free Library (GFL).
The Guilford resident turns a remarkable century-plus-five and remains as inspiring as ever, say her colleagues, friends, and fans. Hired as Guilford's first librarian in 1933, she moved into the original Park Street library building with the books when it first opened in 1934, and remained on the job 44 years, retiring in 1978. She became a GFL volunteer a few months after retirement and remains a valuable asset to the Historical Room, in which she still volunteers to this day.
This year marks 80 years of Nettleton's continuous service to the library.
On July 16, Nettleton will be feted in the Edith B. Nettleton Historical Room on the library's second floor from 2 to 4 p.m. The GFL has been holding annual public birthday parties for Nettleton since she turned 100 years of age. That first party was held at the library's temporary location on Carter Drive, while renovations were underway at the Park Street building. Subsequent library-hosted birthday parties for Nettleton have enjoyed the timeless elegance of the historical room, which is part of the original library and overlooks the Guilford Green.
After the party ends each year, Nettleton never fails to express her thanks to those who come out to celebrate the occasion with her. A past Courier Person of the Week, Nettleton humbly declined an invitation to be interviewed for a story in advance of her 105th birthday celebration at the library. Last year, after her 104th birthday, she penned a thank you note published in the Guilford Courier to say "thank you, thank you, thank you to each and every person who helped celebrate my birthday at the library, and for the many greeting cards. I wish to express my very deep appreciation for such gracious thoughtfulness. The efforts of so many-from the library Friends and staff, up to the state legislature-brought many moments to cherish and remember."
In addition to serving as Guilford's first librarian, Nettleton is credited with tracking down, salvaging, locating, and otherwise saving many historic documents related to Guilford. She kept these prizes in a library closet until a proper historical room could be constructed. The room, later renamed in her honor, also houses the vast Guilford Keeping Society collection.
Nettleton was born in Washington, Connecticut, on July 22, 1908, but grew up in Guilford after her family moved to a farm on Clapboard Hill Road. The Guilford High School graduate earned her librarian's degree in Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition to being known as "Guilford's first librarian," Nettleton, with her sister, Ruth, has long served as co-historian of Guilford's First Congregational Church.
Well-wishers are invited to join the Guilford Free Library in wishing Edith Nettleton a happy 105th birthday on Tuesday, July 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Edith B. Nettleton Historical Room of the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park Street. For more information, call 203-453-8282.