Hyperlinked Librarian

Final Reflection: Technology is the Tool, Not the Superpower

Posted on: December 5, 2019

During this last module, I was stuck by Michael Stephen’s (2018) article, “Library Superpowers Activate!,” which discusses how to have confidence in the ever-changing technological landscape of librarianship. As libraries begin to offer and explore new technologies, it’s important for librarians to adapt and learn.

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I work at a large public library that offers amazing services such as access to 3D printers, a laser cutter, and sewing machines. I used to think that an “expert” would be needed to help patrons troubleshoot these machines. While I think that it certainly helps to have experience with these machines, I think it’s perhaps even more important to have a “can-do” attitude when approaching situations involving new technology.

In the aforementioned article, Sally Pewhairangi states,

The good news is you [already] possess six qualities that can help boost your digital literacy confidence—adaptability, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, patience, and problem-solving—and use them to varying degrees for different situations. 

para. 2

Once a library staff person has developed a basic understanding of a new technology, they can use these six qualities when working further with that technology. While the technology we use can seem flashy and complicated, adaptability, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, patience, and problem-solving are the true “superpowers” of a service-oriented librarian.

While that’s all fine and good in theory, I have still experienced frustration from staff when working in makerspaces due to a lack of training. I’m still unsure if it’s up to the makerspace staff member to educate themselves or if extensive training is needed in order to successfully service these spaces. I’m leaning toward the latter, mainly because in Stephen’s (2017) article, “Librarian Superpowers,” many library folk mentioned the need for support from their library administration (para. 8).

In the end I think it’s a balance. Library staff should have a positive, “can-do” attitude and utilize their “superpowers” but they will also need support from their home libraries in order to be successful. It’s just like the “formula” says: Essential Skills + Mind-set² x Support = Success. You need all three to thrive in librarianship.

[Stay tuned for my Virtual Symposium – Coming Soon!]


Stephens, M. (2017). Librarian superpowers. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=librarian-superpowers-office-hours

Stephens, M. (2018). Librarian superpowers activate! Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=librarian-superpowers-activate-office-hours

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=sunset&license=7%2C9%2C10

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