‘Loved By All Who Knew Her': Coworkers, Community Mourn Loss of Librarian Killed in Bicycle Crash

'Paula was a fun, caring, thoughtful, and empathetic staff member, and a kind and good friend'

The Coolidge Corner Library in Brookline, Massachusetts, was closed Saturday in remembrance of a beloved children's librarian who was struck and killed while riding her bicycle.  

Paula Sharaga, 69, of Cambridge, died Friday afternoon after she was struck by a cement truck in Boston.

The Public Library of Brookline said in a statement Saturday that it is deeply saddened by Sharaga's death.

"Paula was a wonderful asset to the Coolidge Corner community, which she served for almost two decades. Paula was a fun, caring, thoughtful, and empathetic staff member, and a kind and good friend," the statement read. "An avid bicyclist, dedicated environmentalist, and vigorous political advocate, Paula was loved by all who knew her and will be missed terribly by the staff of the library, and by her friends in the community and around the world. Our hearts go out to Paula’s husband and the rest of her family at this terrible time."

As colleagues of Sharaga are mourning, they are also remembering the longtime children's librarian who they say was beloved by kids and their parents.

“She was a real firecracker,” Library Director Sara Slymon said. “Paula was an amazing person, incredible librarian.”

Brookline resident Todd Jennings says they used to go to Sharaga's music class all the time.

“Our son really liked it," Jennings said. "She was a really great librarian, a really great music teacher.”

Sharaga was not only a popular librarian, but the Cambridge resident was also a peace activist and heavily involved in protecting the environment.

And she was always on her bike.

“Excellent biker,” Slymon said. “Always safe, vest, helmet, lights, all the time.”

Sharaga was biking through a busy intersection between Fenway Park and the Longwood area when she was struck and killed Friday. Authorities say a preliminary investigation shows the cement truck, which had Boston Sand & Gravel Co. branding on it, was stopped at a traffic light on Brookline Avenue. When the light turned green, the truck started to move forward. Sharaga came into contact with the front end of the truck in the intersection.

The intersection where the crash took place has been a dangerous spot, according to neighborhood groups who have been pushing for change to make it safer.

“We would recommend an overhaul of the intersection to include protected bike lanes,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance. “Safer crossing for pedestrians which includes new and different signals.”

The library was closed Saturday so grief counselors could be brought in to meet with the staff, and the same thing will take place on Sunday. The library will reopen on Tuesday.

The crash remains under investigation, including the sequence of events leading up to the fatal collision.

No charges have been filed against the cement truck driver, a 67-year-old Salem man. Police say the investigation will determine whether charges are warranted.

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