Librarian Justin Harrison pauses to imagine a magical mystery library tour

 Justin Harrison

Justin, you are the Coordinator of Learning and Research at UVic Libraries. What does a typical day look like for you?

I typically start my day reviewing and responding to my email. Often there are issues or updates from people who report to me or research questions from students. My days are often very full of meetings, usually concerning upcoming or ongoing library programs. In between these activities, I am generally preparing a research session for a class or coordinating activities in the Learning & Research unit. 

What is your current research interest?

I’ve always been interested in various aspects of media studies, in particular, media literacy as it relates to journalism and politics. In our current moment, it has become more relevant than ever, of course. So I am often approaching my research consultations with students through the lens of developing critical thinking about information.

I watched one of your videos where you mentioned your interest in graphics-based novel courses. Is the graphically interpreted work constituted as academic work?

Increasingly so, yes. The work you are referencing relates to a research study I did in which I surveyed students and faculty in three courses in three different departments that were graphic novels focused. I was interested in exploring the academic and learning benefits of graphic narratives. Instructors really see benefits in student learning in graphic novels, as compared to text-only works, around breaking down graphic narratives, character construction and points of view, and the nature of political and societal issues. As graphic novels become so vast in number, there is an ever-increasing amount of very high-quality work in that medium.

What is that one graphic novel that you would want people to read during quarantine?

I don’t particularly feel the need to read about pandemics while living through one, so I would rather recommend books that are simply rewarding to read. One graphic novel I would recommend would be The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, a visually arresting mystery story written and illustrated by Jacques Tardi.  Set in an atmospheric Belle Epoque Paris, it’s translated from the French, if you can find it, and it is about weird science and horror.

Name one activity that you miss during this lockdown.

Playing hockey. Lots of sweat, heavy breathing, and less than six feet distance from one another—not a good mix!

If you could give a personal library tour to a famous person in history, who would that be and why?

I would choose John Lennon. First off, I suspect I’d enjoy hanging out with him. Secondly, I think his natural alertness and voracious curiosity would find the digital and social transformations that libraries have undergone to be an absolute marvel to behold.

What is your most-loved eating place on campus?

I enjoy the daal and the curry wrap at the International Café in the SUB a great deal.

What random acts of kindness have you seen or heard about that took place in the library?

I have found random candy canes at Christmas time hung in various places in and around the library for patrons with a sweet tooth to enjoy.


Interview conducted by Zehra Abrar