Associate Professor Barbara Losoff is the recipient of the University Libraries’ annual Ralph E. Ellsworth Award. It was presented to her during the 2019 Spring Awards ceremony, a time where the Libraries recognize the faculty and staff contributions to scholarship and community over the last year.
Losoff stood out as a nominee for the creativity she brings to her work, her drive, and her palpable sense of caring for the Libraries’ mission. She has also been recognized for her passion for collaborative instruction and the incredible warmth she brings to her relationships with colleagues.
Losoff has been with the Libraries for over two decades. During her tenure, she has filled many leadership roles, from Chemistry and Life Sciences Librarian to Interim Head of Gemmill Library and Interim Head of the Earth Sciences & Map Library, as well as Acting Director of the Sciences Department and chair of both the Libraries Tenure Committee and the Faculty Personnel Committee.
However, it is not just Losoff’s ability to juggle many titles and responsibilities that earned her this recognition. She is driven by a fervent passion for uncovering the significant histories here at CU Boulder and then to create learning opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the public.
“Our Science Librarian Barbara Losoff is an embodiment of the Libraries’ values," said Andrew Violet, graphic designer with the Libraries and colleague to Losoff. "Just as she fosters lasting connections between CUB Libraries with science departments and faculty on campus, she is also committed to bridging the gap between science and community through her many outreach projects involving the Natural History Museum and local schools. A meticulous scholar and researcher, Barbara pursues new and foundational science discoveries with an energy that is contagious for all who work with her.”
Especially important to Losoff is her work shedding new light on Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell, an internationally acclaimed entomologist and naturalist who taught biology at CU Boulder in the early 1900s. Notably, Cockerell has the distinction of being a protégé of Alfred Russell Wallace, who along with Charles Darwin co-founded the theory of natural selection.
A core element of Losoff’s work is making science accessible, principally through student-centered object-based learning. By using the rare items, such as a microscope from 1750, found in the Libraries Special Collections, Losoff invites students to develop a deeper understanding of science.
Object-based learning is also part of the pedagogy for the STEAM Gallery. In fall 2018, Losoff led an exhibit as part of the campus initiative Documenting Change, where the science of climate change is expressed through artistic means. Losoff based the exhibit on environmental observations from past to present using a variety of materials such as the U.S. Government Wheeler Survey expedition notebooks from the 1860s to interactive art installations that focused on Colorado forest fire data.
For Losoff, the Libraries are in a unique position to promote cross-disciplinary conversations and to illuminate collections for deeper engagement with researchers and learners both young and old.
“It’s a wonderful experience to work with the people here,” said Losoff. “It’s tremendous to have the freedom to develop ideas and I feel like that is what academia should be about: to develop a path that works for you. My feeling is that curiosity in the academic environment can constantly refresh your own curious nature because there’s always something new to observe, to read, or to discuss.”
The Ellsworth Award was established in 1990 to recognize faculty members for their outstanding service and contributions to the Libraries, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the profession overall.
The award is named after former Director of the Libraries Ralph E. Ellsworth. From 1937-1943 and again from 1958-1972, Ellsworth published considerably throughout his career, consulted more than 250 library planning projects, and was active on numerous state and national library associations.