Summer 2014

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Policy Spotlight: Social Media

By Tim Gavin

Summer 2014 issue of Trustee

LTA is pleased to announce the launch of its Facebook page. “Like us,” and we will return the favor!  You can now also follow us on Twitter: @LTA_NYS.

Additionally, libraries/systems can now add links to their Facebook page from LTA’s website. Please send the page link to:

We will be featuring different libraries on our Facebook page each month.  

So, it is a timely opportunity to bring up the question . . .

Does your library need to develop a social media policy?

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.) can be extremely effective tools for libraries to become more engaged with their communities.  Not to mention . . . they are free!  Used effectively, these platforms can increase awareness of library programs and allow for direct communication with patrons.  

However, since the reach of these tools extend far beyond a library’s walls, it is prudent to make sure that policy guidelines for staff and patrons are established.   Listed below are some basic things to consider and include while developing a social media policy:

  • Mission Statement: This is your foundation.  It should guide you as to when and why you would use social media.

  • Administrative control:  Who has permission to post material on behalf of your library?  Who should be the admin of your social media site(s)? If the admin leaves unexpectedly, how can it be ensured that your library will still have full access to the site?

  • What is being posted?:  All posts should be able to relate back to your library’s mission. If a staff member is given permission to write a blog as part of a library’s website, is it clear the person is expressing their own opinions?

  • Reaffirmation of other policies: As when DVDs emerged as a new medium of information in addition to CDs and books, basic lending and collection development policies and procedures already established could probably still be applied, but they may have had to be slightly modified.  Likewise, social media is a new medium for staff/patron communication, so existing patron conduct, personnel, and PR policies could probably still be applied.  However, they may need to be extended, modified and re-communicated.

  • Privacy: Has permission been obtained to use a photo taken of a person at a library program before it is posted?

  • Censorship: If patrons are allowed to post comments, is there ever a basis to delete what they wrote? Consider ground rules already in place in your personnel policy and patron code of conduct. Ensure that rules are clearly communicated and applied equally and fairly.  Some reasons used to justify the deletion of a comment are: violation of copyright, use of threatening/abusive language, something clearly off topic, and use of the medium to advertise.

For more information, please visit LTA’s Policy Database and search for social media policies.  If you have a policy that is not in the database, please send it to:

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