Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services and 25th Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sánchez has passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Jane is survived by her husband, Christopher Freitas, and her three children, Adam, Alyson, and Andrew. She will be dearly missed by her family, friends, and colleagues. Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden expressed the Library of Congress community’s sorrow at the news of Jane’s passing, and also a deep appreciation of all that Jane has accomplished during her time at the Library:
Our hearts are broken with the passing of Jane Sánchez, Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services. She was the consummate and devoted professional but it was her positive and good natured spirit that distinguished her. We are all proud of Jane’s accomplishments and how she supported and dedicated a wonderful career to libraries and public service. We will all miss her dearly.
Jane received a Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law and a Master’s in Library Science from Simmons College. After graduation, Jane worked at Harvard’s Lamont Library and at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Gutman Library. Her first experience with legal materials came when she was working as the manager for judicial opinions at BNA, Inc. Jane then served as a business unit managing director at the U.S. Government Publishing Office, an Associate Director of Justice Libraries at the U.S. Department of Justice, and as a department head at the History and Culture libraries at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Jane came to the Library of Congress in November of 2014 when she became the Chief of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division. She became the Law Librarian of Congress in February of 2017 and the Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services in October of 2018.
Jane accomplished a great deal at the Law Library during her four years as Law Librarian, and I asked managers from the Law Library to reflect on her legacy.
Jane led the Law Library of Congress during times of profound change and challenges, overseeing the process of enriching our extraordinary collections, and making them accessible to our patrons all over the US and the world. It was an honor and a privilege to have worked for her, and witness firsthand her commitment to the Law Library team and our mission. She has left a profound mark on the Library and on all of us who were fortunate enough to know her. She will be deeply missed.
Jane perfectly understood that foreign law research adds to the uniqueness of the Law Library and is a feature needed by many of our users. She realized it when she worked at the Department of Justice, where Jane advocated for and implemented the very first formal agreement between a federal agency and the Law Library. Later, as the Law Librarian of Congress, she became the most active campaigner for the Law Library. Under her watch, the amount of work performed by the Law Library under interagency agreements increased almost five-fold. Jane supported historic developments in legal research, hiring new foreign law specialists, improving our publishing operations, and enhancing our web presence. Numerous digital projects, webinars, LibGuides, and of course the Legal Research Institute will serve as her legacy.
Jane was a visionary leader of the Law Library, whose profound contributions made the institution, and its links to the American people, stronger and more impactful. I was so privileged to have worked for her, and I have learned so much from her, but the best part was to see, on daily basis, how deeply she cared for the Law Library team and our mission. She always said that working in the Library, and with us, was her greatest joy outside of her family. I will always cherish the time we spent together.
Director of the Editorial and Publishing Office Luis Acosta:
While Jane had great responsibility throughout the Library, I am grateful that she was always generous with her time and had the best interests of the Law Library at heart.
Jane led the Law Library through many changes and through the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. She was committed to the work of the Library and to serving all of our diverse patrons. We will miss her dedication and leadership. My thoughts are with her family at this very difficult time.
Jane had a vision for the Law Library as a source of education on legal research for everyone. Well before the pandemic, she encouraged the Public Services Division to think about how to expand our teaching online. We took that guidance to heart and began offering webinar versions of some of our in-person legal research classes at the beginning of 2020. When the Library moved to remote work last spring, we were perfectly positioned to adapt all of our instruction for the public, as well as for congressional staff and federal agencies, to a webinar format. Her vision led the Law Library into a new era of user-centered online instruction that enables us to connect the Law Library with a much larger and more diverse audience of researchers than ever before.
Chief of the Digital Resources Division Jay Sweany:
I first met Jane when she was appointed as Chief of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division in 2014, joining the Library of Congress after having served as Directory of Library Services and Content Management at the Government Publishing Office. Jane immediately set out to improve the Library’s reference services to the public by interviewing reading room staff across the Library and compiling an extensive report of recommendations entitled, “Shining a Light on Reference.” As a leader, Jane led by example as she advocated for and then served with her colleagues. Serving at the division’s National Book Festival booth and greeting thousands of visitors during the Main Reading Room Open House are such examples.
Jane was very honored to serve as the 25th Law Librarian of Congress. Although she received other responsibilities in the Library, she frequently expressed that her heart was with the staff, collections, and services of the Law Library. With an ability to see almost simultaneously both the strategic big picture as well as the many logistical details for projects and problems alike, and then lead in her down-to-earth manner, she was a gifted manager.
Jane’s influence can be seen by the proliferated use of VariDesks and green memo books, but also and more importantly, as a model for leadership excellence that this personable mentor has left her colleagues to continue forth.
My condolences to Jane’s family. Her commitment to public service is commendable; I will miss her can-do attitude and for never losing sight of our patrons as we implemented new programs and processes.
Just before the pandemic began, Jane created the Law Library of Congress Legal Research Institute. This initiative increased the number of the Law Library’s webinar based class offerings. As a result, even though the Library campus had to close due to pandemic, the Law Library was actually able to increase the number of people it reached during this period due to Jane’s foresight in creating the Legal Research Institute. Jane’s vision helped to increase legal information literacy across the world.
Jane left a mark wherever she went; she was an achiever and a model for all who worked with her. She was committed to the work of the Law Library and librarianship, and she was so proud of her New Mexican roots.
I will always remember the great pleasure that Jane took in celebrating staff accomplishments, both large and small, from the Law Library.