Library: Rare Book Scope

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History of the Collection

The Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library’s (library) rare book collection was built over the university’s 140-year history. Books were both purchased and donated to the collection. The library inherited books from the faculty of predecessors, the Omaha Medical College (1881-1902) and the University of Nebraska College of Medicine (UNMC).

LeRoy Crummer, MD (1872-1934), a noted cardiologist and a professor at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, was an avid bibliophile and a recognized authority on books of medical and historical significance. From 1920 to 1930, Dr. Crummer travelled widely in Europe, purchasing books for his own collections as well as the College of Medicine library. Surgeon Robert Moes, MD (1905-1988), a 1929 graduate of the College of Medicine, assembled one of the world’s finest collections of rare medical books while practicing in California. The collection was donated to the library from the 1940s through 1980s. Charles F. Moon, MD (1890-1970) was a 1914 graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and professor in obstetrics and gynecology. In 1955, he donated his collection of rare books related to obstetrics and gynecology to the library. Leon S. McGoogan, MD (1900-1993), Omaha obstetrician and the library’s namesake, built upon the foundation laid by Drs. Crummer, Moon, and Moes. A passionate collector, Dr. McGoogan concentrated on works in obstetrics and gynecology, his medical specialty. He donated many books during his lifetime and bequeathed the remainder of his personal collection to the library through his estate, after his death in 1993. H. Winnett Orr, MD (1887-1956) was an orthopedic surgeon who helped found the Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital and he served in World War I. An interest in the history of surgery led Dr. Orr to collect works on surgery, orthopedics, and military medicine. Dr. Orr gave his collection to the American College of Surgeons (ACS). ACS transferred the collection to the library in 1974 as a permanent loan.

Types of Materials

  • Monographs
  • Manuscripts
  • Non-book materials, such as scrolls

Estimate of Holdings and Location of Materials

The library collection (over 8,000 items) and the H. Winnett Orr Collection (over 2,000 items) comprise the library’s rare book holdings. They are housed in two climate controlled and secure access rooms on Level 8 of the Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library in Wittson Hall.

Arrangement of Collections

The library’s rare books are arranged following the National Library of Medicine classification system. The H. Winnett Orr Collection maintains Dr. Orr’s original numbering system.

Guiding Principles for Collecting

The library acquires materials that serve UNMC and our diverse local, regional, national, and international research communities. Building upon existing strengths in order to support deep research and knowledge creation, the library employs a reparative collecting strategy. Most of the collections are comprised of books created in Western Europe and North America, in languages such as English, French, German, Latin, and Italian. The library is committed to addressing imbalances. Despite our success in building a nationally and internationally recognized collection, our holdings remain imbalanced in significant ways. Such imbalances may occur in geographical coverage, formats, languages and scripts, ethnicity, gender, and culture. It is a priority for the library to address these imbalances by collecting creatively and proactively and to acquire books created in areas of the world that fall outside of Western Europe and North America and/or created in languages other than those listed above. In short, the library aims for a broad-based general collection in support of other Special Collection and Archive (SCA) archival or artifact collections, instruction, exhibition, and research.

Collection Strengths

Midwifery/Obstetrics Many of these titles are in the Leon S. McGoogan and Charles F. Moon Collections, and new titles in this theme are actively acquired. Similar SCA collections: Alberts Infant Feeder Collection and the Luikart Forceps Collection.

Comprehensive Anatomy Anatomy of the whole body is one of the basic sciences of medical education, as such it is a critical component of the rare book collection. Similar SCA collections: Edward A. Holyoke Collection containing medical illustrations by Rose Reynolds.

Surgery Concentrates on transplantation (organ, stem cell, and bone marrow), trauma (military and naval medicine), railroad, and surgical nursing. The Orr Collection contains trauma/military medicine titles. Similar SCA collections: artifact collection.

History of Disability Concentrates on psychiatry/neurology, rehabilitation, institutionalization, and marginalization and is a currently active collecting area for Special Collections and Archives. Similar SCA collections: Munroe Meyer Institute Collection, Nebraska Psychiatric Institute Collection, Orr Collection, Wolfensberger Collection, and Alberts Infant Feeder Collection.

Domestic Medicine and Remedies Books devoted to domestic medicine, popular medicine, home remedies, or first aid are a strength of the library’s rare book collection. Similar SCA collections: pharmacy and pharmacology collections.

Infectious Disease Contains many titles related to infectious disease. The current emphasis is to collect titles about Ebola and malaria. Similar SCA collections: College of Public Health and Biocontainment Unit Collections.

Rural Health Rural health and family medicine are important to UNMC. This is an active collecting area. Similar SCA collections: none

Cancer The study and treatment of cancer is a cornerstone of UNMC’s history. This is an active collecting area, specifically in gynecological oncology to support similar collections, such as the McGoogan and Moon Collections. Similar SCA collections: none?

Dentistry The library is expanding its holdings in this area. Similar SCA collections: College of Dentistry archival collection.

Watershed Works The library is committed to continually collecting rare books that are significant in all disciplines in the history of the health sciences. Bibliographies such as Garrison Morton Bibliography of the History of Medicine, Heirs of Hippocrates, and Bibliotheca Osleriana are guides to determining watershed titles. Acquisition of Watershed Works is dependent on their availability from rare book sellers or by donation.

Other Topics Books/titles that can be used in research, instruction, and exhibition but do not fit the collection strengths as outlined in the Collecting Guiding Principles.

General Collecting Guidelines

• Chronological guidelines: no restrictions • Language guidelines: no restrictions • Geographical guidelines: no restrictions • Types of materials and formats guidelines: no restrictions • Date of publication guidelines: no restrictions

Types of Programs Supported by the Collection

Research: Rare book collections are accessible to researchers in the Level 8 reading room.

Instruction: Rare book collections are used in High School Alliance and UNMC courses.

Exhibits: Exhibitions using items from the collection are regularly installed in the Level 8 exhibit gallery and in the American College of Surgeons Rare Book Gallery on Level 5 of the Wigton Heritage Center in Wittson Hall.

Community Outreach: Lectures and programs are free and open to the public.

Displays and instructional sessions can be hosted for community groups upon request.

Publications: Brochures, exhibition catalogs, other print publications, and digital resources, are produced as staff and funding permits.

Criteria for Consideration for Inclusion in the Rare Books Collection

• Date of publication • Market value • Editions of a book/translations • Association copies • Fine printing and binding • Manuscripts • Books on local history: UNMC colleges, institutes, biographies, etc. • Completeness and physical integrity • Material that is rare, unusual, valuable, fragile, historically significant, or likely to be stolen or mutilated

Collection Development Methods

• Physical donations and gifts • Purchases • Transfers from other institutions • University transfers

Out-of-Scope Items

• Duplicates • Incomplete sets

Access to the Collection

• Public catalog, research visits by appointment

Monitoring the Collection Development and Review of Guidelines

This collection development policy will be reviewed annually and modified as necessary to meet the goals of the McGoogan Library’s Special Collections and Archives.