About the Library

At the Health Sciences Library, we power curiosity, discovery and connection. We take a collaborative approach to advance interprofessional education through our expertise, engagement, critical content, and cutting edge technologies that advance teaching, learning, and research, and prepare the next generation of health care providers. Together we make the difference.  

Erinn Aspinall
Director, Health Sciences Libraries

Catalyst Report | Impact and Initiatives of the Health Sciences Libraries | July 2021-June 2023

Print Catalyst Report

Celebrating 130 years of curiosity, discovery and connection

The history of the Health Sciences Libraries began in 1892 when the Board of Regents approved $2,000 for the development of a book collection for the Medical School Department. Each year since, our expertise, spaces, and resources have transformed to mirror the needs of our vibrant community.

  • 1920s Collection of 21,000 volumes moves to Walter Library
  • 1930s Students petition for dedicated library for the medical campus
  • 1960s The Bio-Medical and Wangensteen Historical Library open in Diehl Hall, a 20 year initiative
  • 1990s Networked computing broadens our reach with online catalogs & databases
  • 2010s The Bio-Medical Library is re-envisioned, centering space as a service
  • 2020s The Health Sciences Libraries open in the Health Sciences Education Center (HSEC), promoting active learning

As we enter our next 130 years of collaboration, we are bringing the world of health information to your fingertips to advance informed practice, shine a light on the social determinants of health, and center interprofessional innovation for the future of care.


Exhibits at the Wangensteen Historical Library spark curiosity and showcase their renowned collection that spans 5 centuries.

In Hot Water: Healing at the Hakone Hot Springs

Explore a newly acquired nineteenth-century manuscript titled “Shichito no Shiori.” This ten-volume set is an illustrated guide to the seven famous hot springs in Hakone, Japan, located 50 miles southwest of Tokyo. Stop by to experience the text’s stunning illustrations, learn about the medicinal properties of hot springs, and find out how this new acquisition fits into the Wangensteen’s stellar history of medicine collection!

More Hot Springs Exhibit Info
Book prospectus poster

Student Showcase

See student success in action! This exhibit highlights examples of the variety of student work done in 2022 using the Wangensteen’s collections.

More Student Showcase Info
Japanese measles poster

Drawn to Health: Bodies and Medicine in Popular Visual Culture

This exhibit seeks to examine the historical underpinnings of graphic medicine through collections held at both the Wangensteen Historical Library and the Children’s Literature Research Collections, and explores the historical and contemporary use of visual narratives to communicate about health and medicine.

More Drawn to Health Exhibit Info
Anatomy illustrated

Anatomy Illustrated: Scientific Images and the Body

This exhibit showcases some of the most important examples of the Wangensteen’s vast collection of historical anatomical illustrations and features three of the collection’s flap anatomies, reproduced and made larger so that viewers can interact with them.

More Anatomy Illustrated Exhibit Info
Temple of Flora

Inquiring Minds: Student Scholarship at the Wangensteen Historical Library

This two-part exhibit explores how students use Wangensteen materials in coursework both as individuals and as part of class assignments.

More Inquiring Minds Exhibit Info
Pop up exhibit: Wangensteen in bloom

Pop-up Exhibits: Brief Glimpses, Big Impact

• Anatomy Illustrated
• Tamper-Proof Packaging
• Halloween@Wangensteen
• Big Books & Little Books
• Wangensteen in Bloom

Learning and Research Matters

We're putting information into practice every day as we connect students with new modes of learning and increase the impact of research.

  • Our work with the Office for the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and with researchers across campus is building skills to comply with the new NIH Data Management & Sharing Policy
  • Our librarians and curators have co-authored 18 articles and presentations in partnership with UMN faculty on topics ranging from the efficacy of antibiotic use in broiler chickens to newborn screening to environmental risk factors in childhood central nervous system tumors (FY22, FY23). 
  • Emergency Medicine students are stepping into virtual emergency rooms where they can learn, practice, and review skills in a controlled setting. 
  • With the help of Minnesota Transform funding, our curators are leveraging their decade+ effort to diversify their collection as they develop a curriculum that challenges students to disrupt practices that create healthcare inequality.


Innovations in Dentistry 
What's old is new again in Dr. Karin Quick's Dental Professionalism course. Through our partnership, all Year 1 DDS students interacted with rare books and artifacts to understand how the items have shaped attitudes towards patient care and how this knowledge can inform and strengthen dental practice. 

Global access to artifacts 
Thanks to a $103K Legacy Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, the artifacts we use to enhance local scholarship through course integration, including in Anatomy 7800 (right), are being cataloged for greater access. A technique called photogrammetry will make our most delicate and rare items accessible to anyone around the world — and even in virtual reality. 

Building empathy through virtual reality
New funding is opening opportunities for students and educators to understand the patient experience. Visitors to our Virtual Reality Studio can now walk in the shoes of individuals with macular degeneration, hearing loss, and Alzheimers (among others) so they can place course content in context.

By the Numbers

  • 8,496 Course Readings: We made 8,496 course readings available to 457 health sciences courses (FY22).
  • 30 Thousand Monthly Visits: In just one month, our library provided study spaces, information resources, technology tools, and expertise to 30 thousand in-person visitors (Oct. 2022).
  • 253 Course-Integrated Instruction Courses: We reached 6,898 students in 253 courses teaching concepts of evidence based practice and historical constructs of health and wellness (FY23).
  • 6.24 Miles of 3D Printer Filament: Our 3D printers used over 6 miles of filament to create everything from anatomical hearts to protein scaffolds to pipette holders (FY23).
  • $1.14 Million Student Savings: Affordable content provided by the Libraries offered health sciences students the opportunity to save over a million dollars (FY23).