Conference or Event

Special Libraries Association, Midwest Virtual Symposium

Document Type





In June 2021, the McGoogan Health Sciences Library opened the Wigton Heritage Center on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus. This facility serves as a welcome center and museum for the history of the UNMC campus and explores the history of the health sciences in Nebraska. You read that right—a library opened a museum. Special Collection and Archives (SCA) professionals exist in a unique environment that utilizes three cultural heritage and preservation professions—libraries, archives, and museums. The Wigton Heritage Center project explores how museum practices for exhibition development, environmental monitoring, and curatorial practice are utilized in a library environment. What adjustments must be made to museum best practices and procedures for exhibit design? How are different priorities embraced than in the stand-alone museum? How do you balance security over the typical academic library and still be more accessible than the typical archive reading room? How do you encourage public interaction in an institution designed and conceived to be more exclusive? Though employed by an academic library, most SCA staff are museum professionals and produce museum-quality exhibitions and K-12, adult, and community programs and events. This is why libraries need and have museum professionals on their staff. Not specifically titled “Curators” or “Collection Managers,” but the responsibilities and professional activities are the same. This project illustrates how the professions blend and work together through the creation of the Wigton Heritage Center. It preserves the 140-year history of healthcare professionals educated by UNMC faculty and clinicians in urban and rural environments. It highlights the first African American, Native American, and women physicians in the state and, in the case of one, the nation. The special collections artifacts, archives, digital objects, rare books, and historic university hospital brings this history to life.