Meet Linda Early, Z. Smith Reynolds Library

Linda EarlyLinda Early (’70), head of monographic acquisitions in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, was named one of the University’s Employees of the Year in October. She has worked at Wake Forest for 26 years, in the University Theatre, College Bookstore and, for the last 20 years, in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. Now, she spends a lot of time on the Internet solving Eastern European mysteries. Her love of Wake Forest “shines through” in everything she does, says one of her co-workers.

What do you do?

I order the books and movies for the library collection and oversee the invoicing and receiving of those items. These are all one time purchases, which is why they are referred to as monographs (as opposed to serials or renewable titles). I spend most of my time on the Internet selecting titles in vendor databases or searching out sources for out-of-print materials. My greatest challenges are with older imprints from the Eastern European countries. I love a mystery and many of them are truly mysterious.

What else have you done at Wake Forest?

I worked as the Box Office Manager for the University Theatre when my son was small (1976-1977) and taught a course in Oral Interpretation of Literature as an adjunct in 1977. (Senator Richard Burr was one of my students.) I went to work at the College Bookstore when my youngest daughter started kindergarten in 1984 and then moved to the library in 1990.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

While I love my day-to-day activities and the responsibilities of my job, I think the people are what I love the most. The library is a wonderful place to work, with a supportive and caring staff, and administrators who care and really go the extra mile for the library staff. I work in a corner of Resource Services with very special people.

I also really enjoy getting to know faculty members who have special library material needs. The students that I supervise are very dear to my heart as well. I have “adopted” several of them and I will always be lifelong friends with many of them. It’s always a thrill to be “friended” on Facebook by one of my old student assistants.

How did you end up at Wake Forest?

I graduated from Wake Forest in 1970 with a degree in Speech and spent most of my time in the Theatre. When my husband took a job in Winston-Salem in 1974, I had the opportunity to reconnect with faculty and former students in the Theatre. Dr. Harold Tedford was looking for a Box Office Manager and I was really pleased to be hired as a part-time employee. I ended up as an adjunct when one of the professors had a slight stroke.

After several years in sales management, I came to work in the Bookstore because my choir director was the Book Manager. He jokingly told me at choir practice that when I was ready to go to work at the University he would give me a job. I took him up on it in 1984 and learned my book trade skills there. There were many retirements at the library in 1989 and 1990. My mother was one of them and I knew most of the Library staff through her 25 years there, so it seemed a natural move to come to work at ZSR.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I still sing in the choir at church, do some sewing, and love to read. I read about 250 books a year. My youngest daughter got me started in making jewelry in 2005, so I spend a good bit of time beading. I sell my jewelry at the Artisan’s Fair on campus under the label KTLEE Creations. My daughter is the KT part and I am the LEE part, and she still makes jewelry and sends it home for the sale every year.


My husband retired from his systems analyst job at RJR in research and development in 2003. My son Dave is the theatre manager at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We lost our oldest daughter, Christina, to cancer in 1999. Our youngest child, KT, is an occupational therapy assistant at a rehab facility in Roanoke, Va.

Words of praise:

“Some of her best attributes are not required or defined in her position description. It’s her genuine love of Wake Forest, ZSR and the students that place her on the highest plateau. It shines through in all she does.”
— Wanda Brown, Associate Dean, Z. Smith Reynolds Library