Reference Interview – Jane Sánchez, Library of Congress, United States
18 September 2015
Name: Jane Sánchez
Title: Chief, Humanities and Social Services Division
Institution: Library of Congress, Washington, DC
How long have you been at your current library and what do you do there?
I am a newcomer to the Library of Congress and will celebrate one year at the beginning of October 2015. I manage staff supporting the Main Reading Room, Local History and Genealogy, and the Microform and Electronic Resources Reading Room. In addition, I work on a number of special projects to advance the Library, including the Strategic Plan, advancing new policies, etc.
Why did you decide to become a librarian?
I became interested in college, when I requested that my work-study assignment be in the Library. During that three year stint, I was hooked! And switching to reference work, I enjoyed the human interaction and opportunity of putting a book or some vital information into a patron’s hands. To me, libraries provide me with meaningful work, so that I can make a difference in someone’s life.
Tell us a bit about reference and information services at your library.
The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. and supports Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people. The largest library in the world, it is open to the American public, as a national library serving all researchers. As chief of the Main Reading Room, Local History and Genealogy and the Microform and Electronic Resources Center, I am responsible for fulfilling the collection development and research needs for the areas of humanities and social sciences.
What do you think is the most important issue in reference and information services right now?
I think there are several. First, we need to effectively refute the unfortunate but widely-held notion that everything’s on the Web, for free. That, in itself, is no small task. As a profession, we need to better demonstrate our value to information seekers by advancing their research in ways they couldn’t imagine, with information in all publishing formats. Secondly, we need to harness technology to advance our work, in creating, managing, and assessing information and research resources, recognizing and evaluating information in all publishing formats.