‘Paula was loved by all who knew her’: Colleagues and loved ones remember Brookline librarian killed in crash

A ghost bike ceremony for the Cambridge woman will be held on Sunday, as will a "Celebration of Life" event.

The Coolidge Corner Library closed its doors Saturday and Sunday after the children’s librarian at the Brookline institution was struck and killed by a truck on Friday afternoon while she was riding her bicycle in Boston.

Flowers and cards were left outside the library to remember Paula Sharaga, who’d worked at the Coolidge Corner branch of the Brookline library for almost 20 years. In a statement Saturday, her colleagues called her a “wonderful asset” to the community.

“Paula was a fun, caring, thoughtful, and empathetic staff member, and a kind and good friend,” the library said. “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.”

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The library said all its children’s programs at the Coolidge Corner location will be canceled through March 3.

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

The 69-year-old Cambridge resident was always on her bicycle and was an “excellent” cyclist, the library official said.

“Always safe, vest, helmet, lights, all the time,” Slymon told the station.

Sharaga was riding her bicycle when she was hit by a cement truck at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive in Boston on Friday afternoon. State police said the sequence of events that led up to Sharaga coming into contact with the front of the truck as she was riding through the intersection remains under investigation. Police said the preliminary investigation indicates that the truck was stopped at a traffic light on Brookline Avenue and it started to move forward when the light turned green, striking Sharaga.

Civilians attempted to provide medical assistance to her at the scene, but she was later pronounced dead at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The driver of the cement truck, a 67-year-old Salem man, was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

As of Tuesday morning, no charges had been filed in connection to the crash.

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Sharaga previously worked in libraries in Holliston and as a nursery school teacher, her husband of 25 years, Eric Zinman, told The Boston Globe.

“She’s a beloved person, everybody loved her,” he told the newspaper. “She had a lot of light in her eyes and in her smile.”

News of her death reverberated through the Brookline, Cambridge, and cycling communities over the weekend.

Sharaga was also an activist, who supported the political campaigns of U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and state Rep. Michael Connolly, and raised money for the Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund and demonstrated for environmental protections, according to the Globe.

Cole Harrison, executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action, told the Globe that Sharaga had been helping out at the organization’s Cambridge office about an hour before the crash.

“She just felt you have to make a difference,” he told the newspaper.

Sharaga will be remembered Sunday at a “ghost bike” ceremony near the scene of the crash. A bicycle, painted white, will be installed in her memory at the northwest corner of the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive at 2 p.m.

All are welcome to come connect with others in the community and remember that you are not alone out there when you ride,” the Boston Cyclists Union said of the event.

Later Sunday, a “Celebration of Life” event will be held at the Coolidge Corner Library, starting at 5:30 p.m.

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