On the Job


One For the Books

The “library life” is alumnus Patrick Losinski’s true calling

When he was an undergraduate student on the UWSP campus, Patrick Losinski ’82 thought libraries were useful places to study and conduct research. One fateful day, however, his eyes were opened to the magnitude of what these institutions can and do provide for the communities they serve. His perception changed. Nowadays, Losinski considers libraries to be more than just convenient academic pit stops. They are his bread and butter--not to mention his pride and joy.

As CEO of the Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library (CML) for the past 20 years, Losinski manages the strategic guidance of a system of libraries and media centers within Franklin County, overseeing 22 branches and more than 880 employees. The main library in downtown Columbus has the distinction of being a Carnegie library—originally funded by steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who donated a huge chunk of his fortune to build nearly 1,700 public libraries in the United States.

Despite considering himself a Stevens Point “townie,” Losinski was uncertain about staying local to continue his education. He spent two years at UWSP before moving to the Southwest for a brief stint at Arizona State. He later returned to Stevens Point and became a “more-than full-time” UWSP student, completing his degree in the summer of 1982.

Losinski completed his coursework in communications while working various jobs to pay for his schooling. In fact, it was time spent interning at the local cable access TV station in Stevens Point that awakened in him the potential of a career in the library sciences.  The station’s studios were housed in the former Charles M. White Public Library, situated at Clark and Church streets. Losinski has  said that he spent two semesters watching all the activity buzzing around him at the library, which led to informal conversations with the library director about what his job entailed, and whether he found it rewarding.

This is where Losinski’s educational path took yet another turn. Intent on continuing his education, he was prepared to enroll in the  UW-Madison’s organizational communications program, but found he had been bitten by the library bug. “On a whim,” only months  before classes were set to start, he switched programs. He graduated from UW-Madison’s iSchool with a master’s in library and  information studies in 1983.

Straight out of school, Losinski spent four years working as head of circulation and audio-visual services at the Oshkosh Public  Library before the directorship of a library in northern Ohio, He spent an additional six years as director of the Warren-Newport  Public Library in Illinois before landing at the Pikes Peak Public Library in Colorado as executive director.

Happily ensconced in Colorado Springs, Losinski had envisioned raising his two children with wife Vicky there. Yet the opportunity  to join the well-supported metropolitan library system in Columbus turned out to be too good to pass up. He was recruited by CML in 2002, and has been there ever since.

Currently, Losinski is playing a pivotal leadership role in CML’s multiyear, multiphase $300 million building initiative aimed at  enhancing the main library and upgrading or building nine new branches. Being squarely in that mindset must have played a role in his opinion of what’s happening on the UWSP campus. He has already taken part in reviewing plans for the new building set to  replace Albertson Hall, sharing thoughts based on his experience building more than 19 libraries designed to meet the needs of 21st century communities.

He seems only too happy to contribute to the conversation since it involves two of his favorite things—libraries and his alma mater. Losinski says that his Pointer experience continues to influence him years later. He reminisces about thumbing through a well-worn course catalog, looking for a course still open for registration. He landed on an Eastern Religion class taught by Professor Thomas Overholt, which he says exposed him to ideas and beliefs he never would have encountered before. He intimates that what he learned in that course has helped him embrace the idea of a global education, and honed his compassionate worldview as well.

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows," he says, quoting American journalist Sydney J. Harris.

Losinski speaks enthusiastically about how important libraries continue to be within their communities, providing a peaceful and respectful environment for all cultures, opinions and walks of life. He hews to the motto emblazoned above the main Columbus library door: “Open to All.” It is an invitation to inclusiveness that Losinski feels libraries, with their wealth of resources and knowledge, are well-equipped to handle.

“What other entity can represent all sides of the political spectrum, religions, cultures, sexuality and more?” he asks rhetorically. “It is our democracy’s best promise.

“This profession has enriched me so much.”