Patrick Losinski has spent a lot—and we mean a lot—of time around books. For more than two decades, Losinski has served as CEO of Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), where he has overseen a multimillion-dollar capital improvement plan for 20 new or remodeled library buildings. Under his leadership, CML has earned national recognition, including being named the Library Journal’s National Library of the Year in 2010 and receiving the Institute for Museum and Library Services National Medal in 2011. This year, as Columbus Metropolitan Library celebrates 150 years of inspiring readers and sparking imaginations, Losinski shared with The Columbus Foundation the impact that books and libraries have had on his life.
Was there someone who inspired you to read when you were young?
Rather than “someone,” I believe my local public library was inspirational to me. I grew up in a rural area. Each summer, our library sponsored the “Mailbox Library.” It was kind of a Netflix for books. We received a catalog of available titles in the mail with a thumbnail of the cover and a one sentence synopsis. At the back of the catalog was a postcard. You circled the number of the requested titles and sent the postcard to the library. Within one week, the books arrived in the mail along with a postage-paid return envelope. It was pretty magical. My mother said I was reading all the time during the summer.
What authors do you admire?
That is a bit like asking which child is my favorite or which library branch I like best! I’ve enjoyed every book written by Candice Millard. She has skillfully brought to life some previously unknown stories about key historical figures such as Teddy Roosevelt, James Garfield, and Winston Churchill. But who doesn’t love David McCullough? I had the privilege of meeting Mr. McCullough twice at our library-hosted author events. He was a masterful storyteller who was so amazingly authentic, accessible, and relatable. On the fiction side, I’ve enjoyed Richard Ford and David Rhodes. Both capture the mundane and ordinary aspects of life with compelling observations.
What books are you currently reading? What’s next?
I just finished When Breath Becomes Air. Now I’m reading Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Next up is When the Rivers Run Dry. I have eclectic reading tastes.
Columbus Metropolitan Library is celebrating 150 years of bringing the joy of reading to people throughout our community. What does this milestone mean to you?
I can’t begin to tell you how extraordinary this milestone is. Generations of library staff have worked to build and improve this library. Along with our incredibly dedicated and passionate employees, I am extremely humbled to be here at this momentous occasion. Ever since our founding, we have been Open to All. One of my all-time favorite library quotes is that we are democracy’s best kept promise. Columbus Metropolitan Library is so highly regarded by our community and it has been a great honor to be the CEO these last 20 years. Finally, I’m not sure our society reflects often enough on the fact that reading is an essential life skill. We help to foster a community of readers.
Partnering for Community Well-Being
Last year, The Columbus Foundation partnered with Columbus Metropolitan Library to use human-centered design as a tool to better understand and solve community challenges. Human-centered design is a problem-solving approach that incorporates the perspectives and insights of those who experience the problem throughout the process of solving it.
Through this partnership, The Columbus Foundation and CML have focused on cocreating solutions with community members on topics ranging from digital equity for seniors and New Americans to out-of-school support for caregivers of young children. Additionally, 30 CML employees were trained in human-centered design methodology, empowering CML staff to work alongside community members to identify challenges and co-design solutions that create equitable, lasting change.