Rubbing Elbows

Point of View: Jane Sanchez

Washington places from an AU insider's perspective


Photo­graphy by
Shawn Miller

Jane Sanchez

Established in 1832, the Law Library of Congress houses the world's largest collection of legal materials—2.9 million items and counting. Yet responsibility for leading the organization, which serves more than 31,000 patrons each year (including the 535 members of Congress and their staff), falls on the shoulders of one person: Jane Sanchez, WCL/JD '87. 

"Our first and foremost patron is Congress—our days ebb and flow with the rhythm of Congress's activities. If they are pulling an all-night session, the law library remains open until the final gavel falls," says Sanchez, who assumed her post as the 25th Law Librarian of Congress in February.

US Supreme Court reports, legal texts, and congressional briefs aren't the library's only big draw.

The new exhibit, Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration, showcases 98 sketches from some of the most memorable cases of the last 50 years. James Earl Ray, Charles Manson, and the Harrisburg Seven are among the high-profile defendants depicted in the exhibit, which runs through October 28 in the South Gallery and online at

Overseeing such a vast and vibrant institution keeps Sanchez busy. When she does have time to herself, she finds relaxation in the very objects to which she's dedicated her career: books. "I think anyone who gravitates toward the legal or library professions must naturally be in love with the written word."