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Monday, 14 September 2020

Silent Superheroes in the Library

By Jillian Viljoen
by Jillian Viljoen

Interest in movies about superheroes never seems to wane. Marvel continues to produce movies about various superheroes which enthralls millions of people around the world. I remember eagerly watching Christopher Reeve in his role as Superman, as a child. Superman had superhuman abilities and always swooped in and saved the day. He bravely helped people and fought evil. Many children wanted to be a superhero after watching that movie. But not all superheroes wear capes.

Doctors, nurses, paramedics and hospital staff bravely fight for the lives of people. They help people at all cost; sometimes at the risk of falling ill or losing their own lives, as in the case of contracting COVID-19 during the current pandemic. Traffic officers monitor the roads to keep the motorists and pedestrians safe and arrest offenders who break the law. Teachers and lecturers help to educate us so that we can add value in society. Our parents, grandparents, and others are also our superheroes. Throughout our city and country, many men and women serve and protect us in so many ways. These men and women are superheroes but did you know that there are silent superheroes in the library? These superheroes are librarians.


Librarians have many superpowers. The American Library Association (2006) outlines the characteristics (the superpowers) of librarians. Librarians:

  • “Enjoy helping and serving other people 
  • Interested in developing and providing services, resources and materials that inform and entertain, such as books, movies, music, storytelling, websites, local history, databases, and puppets 
  • Thrive in a technologically changing environment 
  • Interest in information research, preservation and instruction 
  • Willing to connect people with a wide variety of value and belief systems to materials that represent multiple points of view
  • Believe strongly in First Amendment rights protecting the freedom of speech and of the press 
  • Wish to contribute to the greater good of a literate society
  • Want to be part of a professional community that encourages sharing information, opinions and expertise
  • Respect and uphold people's rights to privacy and the freedom to read what they choose
  • Believe all information resources provided by libraries should be equitably accessible to all library users” (American Library Association, 2006).

These superpowers, and many others (maybe minus the puppets in the list above) are what makes these superheroes so effective in assisting with queries and motivating researchers to strive for excellence. If you don’t believe me, contact a librarian and see for yourself, https://library.ukzn.ac.za/contact-subject-librarians/. You may be pleasantly surprised by the responses that you receive.



American Library Association. (2006). Me, a Librarian?. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/librarycareerssite/mealibrarian

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