By John Schleicher
The new Library of Medicine, built on top of the new basic sciences building (later named Wittson Hall), was in a prime campus location right on 42nd Street, and opened in 1970. The design of the two buildings shared only a central service core, later modified by the addition of fifth floor administrative offices, altering the original design. The basic sciences building and the library had different architects and different construction contractors.
The construction companies completed the building by July 1970, and the library moved over the July 4th weekend, and then opened
later that month to high accolades. Boasting 71,000 square feet, with a staff of nearly fifty, ten of whom were professional librarians, the library housed three stories of information. The library contained more than 160,000 volumes, subscribed to over 2,400 medical journals. With seating for 330 people, the new library was nine times larger than the old library, which had been located “temporarily” in a wing of University Hospital for nearly 40 years.
Legislation passed in the mid-1960s, the Medical Library Assistance Act, allowed the National Library of Medicine to distribute funds via a competitive grant program for the improvement of medical libraries across the country. COM Dean Dr. Cecil Wittson submitted a construction grant and received $1.6 million in 1968. A matching fund drive led by Dr. Leon S. McGoogan raised an additional $385,000 for the library. In 1978, the Board of Regents named the library for Dr. McGoogan, in honor of his long affiliation with and service to the library, as well as his fundraising efforts.