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Land O'Lakes librarian makes good on colorful bet with young readers

LAND O'LAKES

Alicia Diaz spent five hours in the chair Thursday as her stylist poured and rinsed, bleached and dyed, combed and smoothed.

The dye was applied in stripes, in every color of the rainbow, across Diaz's brunet bob.

The other patrons at Shepre Color & Hair Design couldn't help but stare, puzzled, astounded.

When the do was finally done, Diaz's stylist proclaimed this was the most colorful head of hair she'd ever seen. Diaz checked the mirror for her new look.

"She did a great job," Diaz said. "I was very pleased."

Diaz, 39, had lost the bet. And she couldn't be happier.

• • •

As the youth librarian at Land O'Lakes library, Diaz wanted to fire up interest in the summer reading program. So she made a bet: If the students at her library read at least 1,000 books this summer, she would dye her tresses a color of their choosing.

Diaz — who got the idea from reading about another librarian who had made the same bet — agreed to keep the new hairdo for six weeks.

Some kids found the 1,000 figure too daunting. So Diaz offered this incentive: For every six books a student read, he or she got to log a vote for Diaz's hair color. (The options were Shocking Blue, Infrared, Hot Hot Pink, Electric Banana, Purple Haze, Green Envy and Rocking Rainbow.)

The bet was sealed on June 15, and the page-turning began.

Of the 156 kids ages 11 to 18 who were in the reading program at the Land O'Lakes library, 87 of them participated.

By July 25, they had read 1,229 books.

The students packed the little box at the library with votes on Diaz's hair color.

Rocking Rainbow garnered 107 votes.

No other color came close.

• • •

Going rainbow didn't faze Diaz. In college, she dyed her hair black with reddish highlights. Since then, she's hacked off her ponytails for Locks of Love. And now that gray hairs have started sneaking in, she figures she'll start coloring her hair again.

Once she's done sporting her multicolored mop, that is.

Diaz unveiled her new look Friday when the kids gathered to celebrate their hard work at an end-of-summer party and lock-in at the library.

Diaz figured she would go all out for the bet, so she painted her fingernails a purplish black and threw on some Gothic-inspired makeup.

"I wanted the kids to take a chunk of their summer to do something extreme, so I did something extreme, too," Diaz said.

"I kept my word, and they kept theirs."

The kids waited in the children's area of the library for Diaz to appear.

Diaz emerged to Blur's Song 2, one of her favorites, and cheers filled the room.

She strolled up the length of the room and back as the kids stared.

"One girl thought I was 17," said Diaz.

"I said, 'Oh, then you're my new best friend!' "

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

Land O'Lakes librarian makes good on colorful bet with young readers 08/17/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 17, 2009 9:04pm]
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