Today’s news:

Librarian shows lots of love

Marc Haken (l.), chairman of Community Board 8's Youth Committee, lends a hand as the juggling comic Will Shaw (r.) shears off about 17 inches from children's librarian Sueli Zaquem's locks for charity. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

The reading room at the Hollis library was full of youngsters last week as they watched the juggling comic Will Shaw toss his bowler hat on his head and share his brand of deadpan humor, but the real show came when children’s librarian Sueli Zaquem made good on the pledge she issued at the beginning of the summer and lopped off more than a foot of her brunette locks for charity.

Zaquem, who is finishing her 10th year at the library, told the little bookworms in her summer reading program that if they finished 3,500 books by the end of the summer, she would cut her hair and donate it to Locks of Love, the nonprofit that gives wigs to children who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.

The youngsters logged about 3,600 books by summer’s end, which means the scissors came out.

“It’s amazing. My children are very dedicated to the summer reading program,” Zaquem boasted. “As I say, I always keep my word.”

Shaw’s show was briefly interrupted as Zaquem tied the dark mane that flowed to the middle of her back into a pony tail and took a seat in front of her reading group.

With a bit of difficulty, as he joked that her hair was too strong, Shaw sheared off just shy of 17 inches, leaving Zaquem with a bob cut that just reached her chin.

“I love my haircut!” she said.

Zaquem had donated her hair to Locks of Love twice before, and while she jumped into the chair with no hesitation at all, she said it is never exactly easy.

“This is the third time and I’m not going to lie. I get emotional,” she explained.

As part of her challenge, Zaquem also pledged to donate a week of vacation time to volunteer at the Queens Village branch of the borough library system.

Each week about 80 to 90 youngsters visited Zaquem’s library to read, work on arts-and-crafts projects and enjoy the free lunches the city provided.

The librarian said many of the children’s parents cannot afford to send them to a summer camp and many of the youngsters would spend their entire day at the library.

Zaquem said each time she donates her hair she looks forward to receiving a postcard with a photo of the child wearing the wig made from her locks.

This donation would be bittersweet because as she gets on in years, her hair is starting to show her age.

“The gray hairs start coming no matter what,” said the 52-year-old. “But you know what, age is beautiful. I don’t mind at all!”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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