Linda Siddell has probably checked out a million books over her 29 years as a librarian at the Farragut Branch/Knox County Library along Campbell Station Road, but she seems to have always done it with a smile.
Siddell is retiring as branch assistant manager and her last day will be June 23. She said it’s been a great career.
“I’ve worked with her [Siddell] for 10 years now,” library director Marilyn Jones said. “We’re going to miss her and we’re hoping she has a really wonderful retirement.”
“We’ve worked together for 22 years,” Suzanne Seger said. “She is over all the staff and is the assistant to the branch head. She’s very good. She keeps us all organized and she’s funny and a natural leader. She’s looking forward to retirement so she and her husband can travel.”
“How I got the job,” said the soft-spoken Siddell, “is I was bringing my two boys to story time when they were 4 and 5 years old,” she said.
“I started in 1988 at the Lovell Heights branch,” she added, “when it was at what is now Strang Senior Center. The library moved in 1997 because it outgrew Lovell and they were building all new branches.”
About her years behind the circulation desk, Siddell said, “It has been interesting,” “You meet every different kind of people. It’s been a joy to work with people in the community, especially the younger kids who are just learning to read and use the library.”
Things have changed a little over the years, she said. “When I started it was the card catalogue. Now everything’s automated to the computer.”
Does she think traditional books will ever go away?
“No, I don’t think so,” she said. “I know a lot are going to the e-books, but people still want to hold something.”
What is her advice to future librarians?
“You have to have the love of books and people. If you don’t like people you shouldn’t be working with the public,” she said.
Siddell said she developed her love of books from her mother who read to her and her three siblings.
Siddell must have passed her love of reading down to her own three children, because all three of her children have Master’s degrees. Her older son works for Marriott Corporation in Washington, D.C. and her younger son works for Clayton Homes. Her daughter is now a librarian at the University of Indiana.
“She said she’d never end up like mom and now she’s a librarian,” Siddell chuckled.
Even her grandchild is a book enthusiast.
“My grandson, Isaiah, 11, is a reader. He won the Battle of the Books at his elementary school in Indiana,” she said.
Siddell got her start as a librarian by volunteering in her high school library.
“I always wanted to be a librarian,” she said. “I just always loved books. I have bookshelves throughout my house.”
How many books does she own? “More than the average person,” she said good-naturedly.
“Knox County offered the volunteer buyout and I took that,” Siddell added. “I was planning on retiring next year, so that was like icing on the cake. I’ll do it a year early and get extra benefits. My husband, Dwayne, has been retired four years. He’s been waiting for me to retire.”
In early June the public was invited to attend a retirement party so she could tell her patrons goodbye.
“The library director showed up and [Knox County] Mayor [Tim Burchett] showed up and a lot of patrons showed up,” Siddell said. “It was really nice.”
Now she plans to travel some more; she’s already traveled to 29 countries, but Siddell wants to go to back to Europe. And she wants to remodel her kitchen and bathrooms.
Like her mother, Siddell’s favorite genre is mysteries and she especially loves the author Janet Evanovich.
“I can’t read at work,” she said. “It’s just a few pages a night and then I have to bring it back. Now I’ll have time to read a book from cover to cover.”