The UNO Libraries recently welcomed the Omaha Magical Society’s library to Archives and Special Collections where it joins the university’s unique and specialized research collections. The Omaha Magical Society members have built a collection that contains books, periodicals, and pamphlets, some of which date back to the 19th century and covers topics including magicians, sleight of hand techniques, and the history of magic.
With the advent of large Las Vegas shows, television specials, and YouTube tutorials, magic has become an area of interest for study, collecting, and learning tricks. The 1,200-volume library of the Omaha Magical Society makes the historical study of regional, national, and international magic increasingly accessible. Director of Archives and Special Collections Amy Schindler highlighted the added research topics available from the donation. “The generosity of the Omaha Magical Society and its members is enabling scholarly research and personal exploration of this enchanting collection for people with a variety of magical interests and beyond. We anticipate the collection will be used by student and community researchers with interests in the study of recreation and leisure activities, the evolution of local and international entertainment, gender roles, gambling, and other topics.”
The donation from the Omaha Magical Society to the UNO Libraries was not just conjured out of thin air. The club’s leaders have been discussing the potential donation with UNO librarians since 2019. According to the Omaha Magical Society’s 2020 President Dave Arch, the motivation to donate the collection to the university was twofold. “When the magic library reached the size where it could no longer be practically housed in any of the member’s residences, the organization’s board began its search for another option where members could still access the volumes. Also, in the past few decades, the Art of Magic evolved from a relatively secret group of magic enthusiasts with a closely guarded collection of secrets into a robust art form recognized and enjoyed around the world.” According to Arch, “By housing the library at UNO, the Omaha Magical Society hopes that many others will now be able to also access this resource.”
The Omaha Magical Society’s donation joins the book collections of diverse organizations and individuals already in UNO Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections including the 19th century Icarian utopian community, Dr. Meredith Bacon, the Rainbow GLBT Outreach Center, the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection, and others. The collection of printed material will be inventoried and described in UNO Libraries’ online catalog by librarians with assistance from Omaha Magical Society volunteers. The Omaha Magical Society library is available for use in Archives and Special Collections. Contact library staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.554.6046 for assistance.
To read more about the Omaha Magical Society and this donation, visit this Omaha World-Herald article.
About the Omaha Magical Society
Now in its ninety-ninth year since its inception in 1921 as Assembly #7 of the Society of American Magicians, the Omaha Magical Society’s diverse membership speaks to the growing interest in magic across all socio-economic groups. Participants in the club range from age seven to ninety-four – including CEOs and business owners as well as those acquiring the hobby for the first time in their retirement. Five full-time Omaha magicians are among its members. You can learn more about the club at the Omaha Magical Society webpage.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha Libraries
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About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
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