Our Mission and History
The mission of the McGoogan Library of Medicine is to support the academic, research, and patient care programs of The University of Nebraska Medical Center by:
providing timely access to high quality collections of print and electronic materials;
developing applications of information technology;
promoting the development of information management skills which support lifelong learning;
promoting networking and the integration of information.
The McGoogan Library of Medicine is one of the nation's major health science libraries serving the information needs of all UNMC students, faculty, and staff, as well as licensed Nebraska health professionals and residents of the state. It encompasses 57,820 square feet of space providing 366 study seats, 16 group study rooms, three computer labs, and 69 public workstations. The library houses approximately 249,000 volumes including 67,700 monographs and textbooks; 479 electronic books; 6700 electronic journals; and an outstanding collection of rare and historical books. The library reaches out to the state and the region through a variety of pro-active outreach programs and provides excellent support to distance learners.
Today's Library actually dates back to 1881, when the Omaha Medical College--predecessor of the UNMC College of Medicine--provided for books and a study room in its frame building at 11th and Mason Streets. later, a library was included in the master plan for a new medical college at 42nd and Dewey Avenue. When North Hall opened in 1913, the Library set up shop next to the anatomy department. Four years later, the Library moved to Unit 1 in the administration wing of the new hospital building. In 1927, it was moved and expanded to the first and second floors of the north wing of Unit II, where it remained until 1970.
In the summer of 1970, after more than four decades in a "temporary" residence, the Library gained a permanent address. Its new home: a three-story addition above the Medical Center's basic science building. In 1972, the building was designated Wittson Hall to honor Dr. Cecil Wittson's many contributions to UNMC.
The prospect of building one structure atop another, while achieving both a separateness and a unity of purpose, presented a unique design challenge. Omaha architect Leo A. Daly rose to the occasion, bringing into focus a vision that had long been shared by many.
Airy and modern, the new building would cap an era of growth for the campus. At more than 58,000 square feet, the new design offered nine times more space than the converted hospital ward that had been the library's home since 1927.
Two years after construction began, the library was ready for occupancy. On July 6, 1970, the first of 140,000 books and periodicals were transferred to the new building. Five days later, the facility opened for service.
The McGoogan Library of Medicine was named after well-known Omaha obstetrician and UNMC faculty member Dr. Leon S. McGoogan (1900-1993), the former Chairman of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at UNMC. Dr. McGoogan's affiliation with the Library of Medicine began in 1922, when as a medical student he obtained an evening job at the Library. Later as an Omaha obstetrician in private practice, he was well acquainted with the Medical Center, having taken two years of his training at the College of Medicine and, since 1930, serving on its volunteer faculty. In the 1950's he was appointed to the Library Committee.
Dr. Mac was the kind of man who answered every question and every challenge with accomplishment. His passion for excellence was reflected in all facets of his life, including the many roles he assumed on behalf of the Medical Center: physician, faculty member, supporter, benefactor, friend, and honorary alumnus.
Of the many successes of his 93 years, Dr. McGoogan, by his own admission, was most proud of his work in shaping the medical library that bears his name. The Leon S. McGoogan Library of Medicine was his crowning achievement.
After 30 years of hard use by students, faculty, and staff, however, even the best of designs start to show age. In the year 1999, a milestone in the history of the McGoogan Library of Medicine began with the library's new renovation. The sixth and seventh floors of the library were redone in such areas as new carpeting, electrical fixtures and lighting, paint, and furniture. Relocation of some departments and a designated room for copy machines were also established. The Library also received an overall facelift to reflect a more updated, modern design for the 21st century.