University of Nebraska Medical Center

Mission and History

UNMC Mission

We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC.

Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care.

UNMC Stand

We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC.

We lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future through extraordinary care, discovery and learning.

Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library Mission

Connecting the past, informing the present, building the future. Inspiring excellence in education, research, and patient care through information.

Our History

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 Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library 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 Health Sciences Library 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 Health Sciences Library was his crowning achievement.