Russell became the director of the DeGolyer Library in 2001. His responsibilities include collection development, endowments, and outreach to local, regional, and national constituencies. He previously worked at the American Antiquarian Society. Russell earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from SMU, his M.S. in Library Science from the University of Illinois, and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia. He is an active member of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the Texas State Historical Association, among others. He began his library career in 1977 as an undergraduate at SMU, shelving books in Fondren Library, and he reports that he is still shelving books today!