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Hetzner, Bernice M.



Mrs. Bernice M. Hetzner was the University of Nebraska Medical Center Library of Medicine Director from 1948 until 1973.


Bernice Martin Hetzner was born on April 15, 1909 in Omaha, Nebraska. After working as a student librarian at Technical High School, Hetzner attended Creighton University, graduating in 1933 with a degree in the social sciences and French. She attended the University of Denver where she received a degree in library science in 1934. She then received a Masters in Education from Colorado State University in 1935, where she also held her first position as a professional librarian.

In 1935, Hetzner returned to Omaha where she was employed by the Omaha Public Schools as the Supervisor of Elementary School Libraries and Librarian of the Professional Library. She held these positions until 1938. Also during this time, she was an instructor of School Library Management at the University of Omaha, Extension Division. In 1938 Mrs. Hetzner moved to Los Angeles where she held the positions of Senior Librarian for the Los Angeles County Public Library and Lecturer in School Library Management at the Los Angeles County Teachers' Institute.

She married Ralph Hetzner in Omaha in 1943, and subsequently moved around quite a bit as Mr. Hetzner was stationed in the military in different places for short periods of time. While they were in New York, Mrs. Hetzner was an Assistant Librarian at the New York Public Library, Riverside Branch. She returned to Nebraska in 1944 and took the position of cataloger for the School of Nursing at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Lincoln and later, Administrative Assistant for Public Service at the Lincoln City Library. In 1946, her work brought her back to Omaha, where she was Film Librarian at the University of Omaha until 1947.

In 1947, Mrs. Hetzner became Assistant Librarian for Cataloging at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine Library. One year later she was named Librarian (later Library Director), a position she held until her retirement in 1973. In addition to her position as Library Director, Mrs. Hetzner also held appointments as Professor of Library Science, Director of the Midcontinental Regional Medical Library, and Professor Emeritus upon her retirement. Through the Medical Library Assistance Act of 1965, she secured the funds to construct a new Medical Library at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which opened in July 1970 and was named the Leon S. McGoogan Library of Medicine in 1978.

Mrs. Hetzner received many honors and awards throughout her career. She served as member and chair of numerous Medical Library Association (MLA) committees, on the MLA Board of Directors from 1959 to 1962, and as MLA President in 1971-1972. In 1971, she was appointed to the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents by President Richard M. Nixon, the first librarian to serve in that role. In 1974, she was the first woman and one of the few non-physicians to receive UNMC’s Distinguished Service to Medicine Award. Mrs. Hetzner won MLA's Murray Gottlieb Prize Essay Award in 1958 for the best essay on American medical history by a medical librarian. Her prize-winning essay was “The Development of the Omaha Medical College, 1869-1902” and she also authored a chapter in The Handbook of Medical Librarianship. In 1990, the Medical Library Association named her a Distinguished Member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals, its highest honor.

At UNMC, she served on several committees, including: Medical Center Library Committee, Senior Thesis Committee, Computer Center Committee, College of Nursing Library Committee, Nebraska Psychiatric Institute Library Committee, and Curriculum Committee Subcommittee on Resources. Mrs. Hetzner worked on Alfred F. Tyler’s History of Medicine in Nebraska, which she indexed, edited, revised, and had re-published in 1977. She also collected and organized many publications, artifacts and other miscellaneous items relating to the history of UNMC and medicine in Omaha and Nebraska.

Mrs. Hetzner was also active in many other library organizations, including: American Library Association, Nebraska Library Association, Omaha-Council Bluffs Librarians Club, Special Libraries Association, Mountain Plains Library Association, American Association for the History of Medicine, Central States Regional Medical Library Group, Advisory Committee for Midcontinental Regional Medical Library Program, American Society for Information Science, Nebraska State Advisory Council on Libraries, National Library of Medicine Board of Regents, Library Aide Advisory Committee for Omaha Nebraska Technical College, and Consultant to the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents.

Mrs. Hetzner died at the age of 89, on October 9, 1998, in Omaha, and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Hetzner Interviews, 1979-1981

Identifier: UNMC-3-001
Scope and Contents

Oral histories conducted by Mrs. Bernice M. Hetzner about the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and College of Nursing.

Dates: Majority of material found within 1979-1981

Filtered By

  • Subject: Schools, Medical X