Library director retiring after more than 31 years

SHELLEY — One might think it’s books that make a library, but if you ask around Shelley and the surrounding communities, they might tell you it’s actually the librarians. Perhaps that’s why the retirement of head North Bingham County District Library’s library director Heidi Riddoch makes for such a bittersweet goodbye.

Heidi Riddoch made the library a second home in our corner of Eastern Idaho for the last 31 and a half years. It’s become a safe space for individuals and families to relax, research, and read.

When she started working in 1990 the library was located in an old bank on N State Street. She saw a need for something bigger and had the vision and grit to make it happen. With the help and support of her staff, she found a larger building, got it approved and funded, and entirely renovated it.

Heidi and the library faculty have hosted many memorable events over the years from tea parties to Dr. Suess and Harry Potter nights. Kids love to join the summer reading program. She has not just created a place for bibliophiles, but her activities have pulled in a variety of interests such as the yearly quilt show.

Not only has Heidi masterfully run a library, but she also managed a household with twelve children. When asked, her children claim that the library has become part of their mother’s identity. They grew up volunteering, reading on their breaks, and getting paid with pizza afterward. Now the tradition of visits to the library has been passed down to the next generation. Heidi’s 40 grandkids, who are spread out over the country, all love to come home to Idaho and visit “Grandma’s Library.”

“My mom can tell you thetrending books for every age. She has a recommendation on the tip of her tongue for anyone who walks through the door. Growing up, I’d come home to find a pile of books on my nightstand she’d selected for me, and my world would transform into one of adventure, history,and romance. I am an author today largely because of her influence and the love of the written word that she instilled in me,” Heidi’s daughter Anneka R. Walker, a historical fiction author, said.

Another daughter, Shawna Wakefield, said, “My mom loved people and if you were a library patron, she probably knew your name and your whole life story. She was like that. She made everyone feel welcome and that they were important.”

Heidi has faithfully worked hard to provide jobs for people in the Shelley and Firth communities from senior citizens to young teens.

Her most inspiring goal has always been to provide patrons of the North Bingham County District Library with the resources to fill their needs.

“My mom instilled in me a love for reading. It was a gift that I passed to my eight children and we have visited her at the library sometimes weekly forthe last 15 years. We have looked forward to checking out books, movies and themed kits, as well as attending the library parties. My children love to call Grandma and request books. Anneka, my eight year old daughter, plays ‘Shelley library’ with her friends and teaches them how to pretend to check out and shelf books on her play dates,” Heather Okeson, another of Heidi’s daughters, said.

During her time as a head librarian, Heidi has stocked the shelves with the best materials, applied and received numerous technology grants, spent much of her personal time fighting for bonds for a library expansion, and has spent countless hours trying to meet the needs of every single family that has crossed the library threshold. Her love for books and her love for the people of the community make for a tough competition. She will be missed!

We are excited to welcome Kaylene Christensen as she steps into the role of library director. The community library is still in good hands.

The public is invited to attend an open house in Heidi’s honor on Oct. 29, from 12 p.m. to 2 at the North Bingham County Library.


Jacqueline Wittwer

Jacqueline is an active member of the Shelley community and a Community Pioneer contributing writer.

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