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Cool, Calm and Collecting

In two leadership roles, Jane Sánchez ’76MS is moving the Library of Congress forward.

When the Library of Congress named Jane Sánchez ’76MS Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services in June, she retained her existing post as Law Librarian of Congress. She’s taking her dual leadership roles in stride. 

“What’s that idea? That when you discover your passion, you can discover the work you love? That’s how I feel about my career. I love what I do, so it’s not hard,” says Sánchez. “My goal in both positions is the same: to enrich the Library’s collections, increase the Library’s visibility and discoverability, and improve our services.” 

Sánchez leads the Law Library, Library Services, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Together, they acquire, steward, describe, preserve and make accessible materials for what’s regularly described as the largest, most diverse library collection in the world. It’s a huge job: The Library adds some 15,000 items each day to the collection, and what is acquired is preserved forever.  

“Just walking around the collections in our three Capitol Hill buildings … you can walk around the world,” notes Jane Sánchez ’76MS.

For Sánchez, the scale of the collection is one of the most enjoyable aspects of working at the Library. “Just walking around the collections in our three Capitol Hill buildings … you can walk around the world. It’s incredible.” She notes, for example, that the Law Library provides and publishes legal analyses for 240 countries. 

Sánchez’ career has roots in her undergraduate years at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; she pursued a work-study job in the library and loved it. That led her to the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons, while working at libraries at Harvard University. A 23-year “side journey” into nontraditional librarianship included working for the U.S. Department of Energy and the American legal publisher then known as BNA; she earned a law degree along the way. 

“I returned to more traditional librarianship in 2002 as Department Head, History and Culture libraries at the Smithsonian,” says Sánchez. Subsequent jobs led to the Library of Congress in 2014. 

With the country’s de facto national library at Sánchez’ fingertips, what does the former English major read for pleasure? “Fiction and mysteries primarily. Although lately I’ve been reading historical biographies. Right now I’m reading Courting Mr. Lincoln, by Louis Bayard.”