Social Media Policies for Staff

We don’t really have a social media policy for staff (and I hope we never have one). We generally encourage staff to experiment with social media on-the-job, use their personal accounts to share what the library is doing (when appropriate), and “be the library” when they’re out and about – be that physically or digitally.

Other libraries do create social media policies. I get that – every library has different needs. But sometimes, weird things pop up in them, usually because the policy was written without thinking through how the technology actually works.

For example, take Tulsa City-County Library’s Social media Technology policy for staff (seen via an email):

“Social media technology is another mechanism to transact business and provide information/services within the library. The use of social media technology and similar tools (such as, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, instant messaging and wikis) and the posting of electronic content on behalf of the library shall be professional and reflect the appropriate behavior as expected of a library employee.

All proposals for library service use of social media technology must be submitted through the library’s New Technology Committee and must be pre-approved by the requestor’s supervisor.

Employees must be authorized to create or post content on library social media accounts.

Employees may not use their personal social network accounts for library use. Institutional accounts must be created to provide information/services for the organization.

Employees may choose to express themselves by posting personal information on Web sites, blogs, other social networking sites or chat rooms on the employee’s own time. The library values creativity and honors personal expression. However, an employee should demonstrate care if personal postings include the library’s name or other identifying information that leads others to conclude that the poster is associated with the library. Employees should not represent their statements in an online social networking community as reflective of official library policy or position. Any posting that violates the library’s rights or the rights of other employees (inappropriate, offensive, harmful or threatening) may cause both disciplinary action in the workplace as well as legal action.”

Generally speaking, it’s a pretty normal policy. But check out the part I put in bold again. Then think about how Facebook works.

See the problem?

The library is telling employees that “Institutional accounts must be created to provide information/services for the organization.” OK. What’s the problem, David?

Guess what Facebook says about that? From their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities – “You will not create more than one personal profile.”

Basically (and I’m guessing the library really doesn’t know they’re asking this), the library is requiring their employees to break Facebook’s Terms of Service (assuming those library employees already have a personal Facebook account).


I’m not really picking on Tulsa – I’ll bet they swiped that language from any number of other “social media policies” for employees. But if we really, truly want to look professional … at the least, I’m guessing we shouldn’t ask our employees to do something that will technically get their personal accounts deleted. Right?

What about your library? Do you have social media policies for staff? If so, how does it read? What are you asking your staff to do?