Longtime Kauai librarian Thelma Hadley

Thelma Hadley (1902-1987) was a public librarian on Kauai for 44 years, from 1927 to 1971, first at the Kauai Public Library situated in the Albert Spencer Memorial Building on Rice Street, and later at the Lihue Public Library on Hardy Street.

Hadley was born in Honolulu, the daughter of Kenneth and Gertrude Hopper, and raised on Kauai — a real tomboy and crack shot with a hunting rifle — and attended Lihue Grammar School and Kauai High School.

Her father managed the Garden Island Publishing Co. from 1907 to 1929. During his 22-year tenure, The Garden Island newspaper assumed a position of importance on Kauai. Published weekly, it grew to 10 pages and included world and local news, photographs, sports, Hawaiian language and social sections.   

In 1927, after Ms. Hadley had earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Nevada and completed a course of study at the Library School of the Los Angeles Public Library, she returned home to Kauai to commence her long career as a librarian and library administrator.

In summing up her life’s work following her retirement, she said, “I have loved the work and it has been a wonderful experience. My career has been enriched by the people with whom I worked. I have tried to utilize each person to her advantage and to the growth of the library.”

Reflecting on Kauai’s past she noted, “I am happy I have lived life on Kauai when it was still slow and when we had time to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. I’ll always remember the horse and buggy pace and the quiet evenings when we sat around just reading.”

In 1951, Hadley and Margaret S. Williams wrote the original “Kauai, the Garden Island of Hawaii: Guide Book,” published by Garden Island Publishing Co.

She and her husband, William, had three children: Joseph, William and Barbara.


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