Beloved longtime Whitestone children’s librarian Susan Scatena, also known as “Miss Susan,” died on Jan. 10, at age 61.
Scatena was renowned for a special annual children’s summer reading contest she organized for the past 14 years to entice kids to read during their vacation from school. If they reached the goal of collectively reading at least 2,000 books, she did a special stunt inspired by a well-known children’s story.
Past performances include sitting in a vat of spaghetti, kissing a frog, reading to an alligator, eating a plate of green eggs and ham, hugging a 14-foot Burmese python and morphing from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
“During the 18 years she served the Whitestone community, Susan became an institution because of her creativity, thoughtfulness and total devotion to children,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “She was a remarkable librarian who was beloved by many people in the community, within the QPL system and beyond. We are deeply saddened by her passing and will miss her a great deal.”
Scatena began her career as a teacher and joined Queens Public Library in 1981, first working in the Poppenhusen and Mitchell-Linden branches before moving to the Whitestone branch — located at 151-10 14th Road — in 2002.
Born June 14, 1958, Scatena was raised in College Point, and attended Monsignor Scanlan High School in the Bronx. She received a bachelor’s degree in early education and a master’s degree in library science at Queens College. She won the prestigious James Patterson PageTurner Award in 2006 for her efforts to spread the love of reading.
Throughout her life, Scatena volunteered at several different performing arts organizations, including the Village Light Opera Group, the New York Caledonian Club, and the New York Scottish Pipes and Drums, working behind the scenes of their productions.
She is survived by her partner, Rick Stanley of Flushing, and her cat, Dewey. A memorial service will be held at 10:15 a.m. Friday, January 24, at Saint Fidelis Church, located at 123-14 14th Ave., College Point.
A private burial will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Scatena’s name to the North Shore Animal League, 25 Davis Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050, or to the Queens Public Library Foundation and designated towards children’s materials for Whitestone Library.