I checked the Urban Dictionary. It lists three definitions for the word fierce.
1. term that gay men used in the late 1990s and early 2000s to describe absolutely everything that was of “exceptional quality”.
2. being bold, displaying chutzpah, especially relating to fashion, clothes, hair or makeup. Girl, work those heels! fierce!3. term used in fashion for cool, sexy, awesome, or any other positive remark about something. it is most famously used by Christian Sirianos, Project Runway winner, and Tyra Banks. Damn that dress is so fierce! I love it! Look at that model and her fierce little strut!
I present here an update, a few rules for fiercer practice:
You can’t be fierce in a holiday sweater. No one values comfort more than me, but I know when to pull out the LBD and the pencil skirt, the very cute power jackets, and yes, even heels when it matters. (Guys, you know the equivalents!) When it matters, put the sweater down. Rock your look. Check the mirror. Make sure you don’t look like they think a librarian should look. Look fierce at those Board meetings and when you meet people who make decisions at Central Office and beyond.
Ask Later: Fierce librarians never say, “But I can’t” or “But what about. . .?” You are working ahead of the rules. So, if what you plan to do is instructionally sound. And, if you are not actually breaking any rules. And, if no children will be hurt in the process. Exercise your fiercest sense of academic freedom. Do it. Make it a success. Do it before someone thinks of a reason why you should not. If you wait for explicit permission, you will absolutely miss the bus.
Don’t Stop at NO: Sometimes the people who will tell you “no,” are completely unfierce. Consider no as just a little bump in the road. You can work towards getting to yes by presenting information and evidence of success, by teaching.
It’s Okay to be BETA: You can be fierce, but you can’t always expect to be perfect right out the box. You’ll need to take a few risks and forgive yourself and experience the collateral learning that happens when things go slightly wrong.
Train Thyself: The stuff we are working with is pretty new. No expert is going to visit your school and tell you how to be a TL in 2011. So, don’t wait till the big expert comes to town with the most convenient workshop. Fierce librarians cannot wait for the annual conference. Visit any conference that interests you via webcast. Join the Geek Tribe. Visit and lead at our TL Cafe and TL Ning and check out the fierce events hosted by the SIG_MS Wiki on a regular basis. Follow the #tlchat hashtag on Twitter. Check the TL Chat Daily. Read a few key bloggers. Add you work to the list. Find someone else–someone perhaps, who is even more fierce–who wants to learn, who may know a little more and train each other. Seek the training you need and learn it yourself. And this is related to another new rule. . .
You Can’t Punch This Clock: I can’t even imagine being granted prep or workshop time to learn all I know I need to learn, as well as what I don’t even know I need to learn. No one can really fully teach you how to integrate wikis or other collaborative writing tools in YOUR classroom, for YOUR learners. You cannot learn what you need to know about digital storytelling in a one-hour workshop. You’ve got to expect to invest the time it takes on your own time. Folks who expect release time will absolutely miss the fierceness bus.
Don’t Make the Beds: Intrepid pioneers don’t worry about clean sheets. Fierce librarians question the value of routine tasks vs. opportunities with true learning punch. Ten years ago when I discovered the impact of what I was doing on the Web, I knew I had to give stuff up. I don’t do inventory every year and I don’t make my beds everyday. Those activities are the antithesis of fierceness. My closets are hopeless, but I am getting to be a way better teacher and librarian.
Delegate Up, Down and All Around the Library: You don’t need to be the best at everything. You will be an impostor in some arenas and it is okay to admit it. You can’t do everything yourself. It is definitely okay to recognize and celebrate the talents of experts who may be 14-years-old. Let them help. Let them lead. Let them be fierce too and celebrate it. And when you have a brilliant volunteer, of any age, don’t make them continually shelve. Shelving is unfierce and it may be a waste of critical creative talent.
Teach Outside the Library: Be fiercely present on your learners’ home desktops, their iPhones, and iPads, and all their mobile devices. Make your library portable. This is the year to create your fiercest instruction and pathfinders and guides. To answer questions and instuct online. Go fiercely outside of your doors and down your halls. Visit those labs and one-to-one classrooms. Be wherever your learners and users are.
Get Up, Stand Up: What is your vision for 2011? For 2020? Develop it. Refine it. Revise it. Share it. If you don’t stand up at this moment, you will lose a critical opportunity to define what a fierce school information professional looks like. You will lose turf that should be yours. No one will know your importance.
Stop Watering the Rocks: We can’t continue to put wasted effort into working with those who refuse to grow. Water the flowers first. Help them be fierce too.
Access to the New Tools for Learning=An Intellectual Freedom Issue: You’d fight like hell if folks threatened to challenge the books on your shelves. This year we need to be as fierce about students’ limited access to the information, collaboration, and communication tools of their time. All students deserve appropriate, equitable access. This is a librarians’ banner to wave. Let’s wave it fiercely.
There is No Box: For those of you who are thinking about beginning to look outside the box, think even fiercer. There is no box for fierce modern practice. We are redefining what things like collection, reference, collaboration, instruction, writing, and even what literacy looks like. Look to other leaders, not a textbook, for your ideas. Share your fastest ideas with the community. This is a year to be fiercely creative.
Go out and . . .
Lead Fiercely from the Center! You don’t need to be principal to lead your building. You don’t need to be president to lead your state organization. Build your tribe and lead from the library information/media center or your network.
Fierce power is implicit.
(Some of these images were created using ImageChef.)
“Watering Rocks.” Langwitches. 13 Jan. 2008. Web. 22 Feb. 2010. <http://www.langwitches.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/watering-rocks.jpg>.
Scheufele, Chris. “DSC02934″ n.d. Flickr Blue Mountains. 2 Jan. 2011. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/11639144@N00/2101878637>.