Pia Russell

Pia Russell    BA MISt MEd MA
Librarian for Education and Children's Literature—Special Collections and University Archives
Doctoral Candidate—Department of History: https://www.uvic.ca/humanities/history/people/graduate-students/profiles/russell-pia.php

Welcome to UVic Libraries! If you are a new or returning Education student please let me know if I can assist you with your research, my contact information is below. 

Office hours

  • By appointment in my office in McPherson Library (email me to set up a time)
  • You may also contact “Book a librarian” for research assistance.


Office A225
McPherson Library
3800 Finnerty Road
Victoria, BC  V8P 5C2
Tel. 250.721.8259 (Local: 8259)
Email: prussell (at) uvic (dot) ca

Mailing address

University of Victoria Libraries
PO Box 1800 STN CSC
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3H5 

On leave June to December 2023.

If you are a student or instructor studying education or children's literature you may find it helpful to consult some of the UVic Libraries' subject guides I have created.  These guides are a good starting point for your library research.  It would also be a pleasure to meet with you during my office hours.  

Consult UVic Libraries' subject guide on Children's Literature

Consult UVic Libraries' subject guides on topics in Education

If you are a student in The School of Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education (EPHE), your librarian is my colleague, Dr. Zahra Premji, the Health Sciences Librarian

UVic's Music Librarian, Bill Blair, has developed a subject guide for Music Education

On leave June to December 2023.


ÍY SȻÁĆEL.  Cultural heritage is my professional passion and I have worked in the field of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (“the GLAM sector”) for over twenty years.  I am trained as a historian, archivist, librarian, curator, and educator.  Currently, I work as UVic's librarian for Education and Children's Literature where I am a member of the Special Collections and University Archives team.  Until 2024 I serve as the Primary Investigator of a Social Science and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Insight funded grant titled Unsettling History: An Interactive Digital Library of British Columbia’s Historical Textbooks, 1871-1921. Our research team won the 2022 British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) Champion of Intellectual Freedom Award. Born and raised in xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory, I am grateful to now live and work in the homelands of lək̓ʷəŋən and SENĆOŦEN speaking communities.  My ancestry is Danish, Scottish, and English and I use she/her pronouns. 


Under the supervision of Professors Lynne Marks, John Lutz, and Christine O’Bonsawin, I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at UVic.  You can learn more about my teaching and research from my Department of History webpage.  My research focuses on inclusive histories of British Columbia with an emphasis on decolonization, anti-racism, and gender studies.  Comparative gender histories in the Pacific Northwest and the Transatlantic world during the early modern period are also of interest.  My dissertation research studies Indigenous-settler relations and national historical consciousness in the Canadian state as applied to the history of childhood, education, and the book.  Leading historical sources of inquiry are public school (K-12) textbooks and I frequently draw upon ethnohistorical and mixed methods approaches.  Indigenous partnerships are essential to my practice.  In 2019, I completed a Master of Arts in history at UVic specializing in public history, Indigenous-settler relations, cultural resource management, and Canadian history up to the early twentieth-century.  My major research paper was titled, 'Whose History?  A Reconnaissance of British Columbia’s First Fifty Years of History Textbooks, 1871-1921.'  In 2006 I received my Master of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT), where I specialized in mixed methods research, program evaluation, and assessment for learning.  I graduated from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information Studies with my Master of Information Studies in 2004 with a concentration in both Archival and Library Studies; my thesis was titled 'Information Literacy and Education Policy: An Instrumental Case Study of the Ontario Public School Curriculum.'  I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia, where I completed a year abroad at the University of Copenhagen.  My undergraduate major research project was a content analysis of Canadian wartime propaganda posters.  I also hold an Associate Certificate in Applied Leadership and Conflict Resolution from the Justice Institute of British Columbia (2016) and a certificate in Project Management from Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto (2005).

Professional service and experience

In June 2023, I will be a Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media | Georg Eckhart Institute for Historical Textbook Studies in Braunschweig, Germany.  In July 2023, I will be a Fellow in the Liberating the Collections program at the University College London’s Research Institute for Collections, in London, UK.  From 2022 to 2024, I serve on the board of the Victoria Historical Society.  From 2019 to 2021, I was a director on the British Columbia Library Association board.  In 2019 I was an Open Knowledge Practicum Fellow in UVic's Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL).  In 2016 and 2018 I provided large-scale mixed methods research consultation on BCLA's Professional Learning Assessment survey projects.  Additionally, throughout my twenty years as a librarian, I have served as an external academic program reviewer for a variety of institutions.  Since arriving at UVic in 2006, I have held numerous positions such as: Coordinator for Learning and Research Resources, Head of the Curriculum Library; Assessment Projects Librarian; Learning Commons Librarian; and, Teaching and Learning Librarian.  Informed by servant leadership, I am a committed manager-practitioner, learner-centred teacher, and action-oriented researcher.  Before coming to UVic, I held positions as both a librarian and library assistant at the University of Toronto Libraries, The Globe and Mail Editorial Reference Library, and the University of British Columbia.  Additionally, I initiated my scholarly work as a result of excellent mentorship through roles as both Research and Teaching Assistants at the University of Victoria, the University of Washington's iSchool, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.  Sharing my passion for academic library work is a joy and I am committed to mentoring many students and graduates in the field.

Publications and presentations

I have published in scholarly and professional journals such as the Canadian Historical Association’s magazine IntersectionsThe Journal of Mixed Methods ResearchBCLA PerspectivesSchool Libraries Worldwide, and Feliciter.  Frequently I serve as a reviewer for journals in the fields of librarianship, information studies, history, and education.  I have presented on the topics of historical education publications, library assessment, information literacy, mixed methods research, and school libraries at the following conferences: Oxford University’s Centre for the History of Childhood Colloquium, the Symposium of School Museums and Collections of Educational History, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the American Evaluation Association (AEA), the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA), the Canadian Historical Association (CHA), the Canadian Library Association (CLA), the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE), the Canadian Association of Information Science (CAIS), the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC), the Library Orientation Exchange (LOEX), the Ontario Library Association (OLA), the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), REsearch in Academic Libraries (REAL), and the Workshop for Instruction in Library Use (WILU).  See a full list of work on my ORCID pages.

Program of research

My current program of research focuses on the study of British Columbia's historical textbooks.  I am the Curator of UVic Libraries' British Columbia Historical Textbooks collection and digital library.  You can learn more about this collection by watching my Faces of UVic Research video or listening to a CBC Radio One segment about this unique collection of historical textbooks which aired the week of September 4th, 2018 as part of a special series about Indigenous curriculum in BC titled 'Beyond Beads and Bannock'.  As part of this project, I am frequently asked to speak at teacher professional development events and community lectures through my affiliation with UVic's Speakers Bureau

Learn more about my research and why I am so passionate about libraries in these recent interviews: