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Social Media Policy
Approved October 22, 2012

The Library recognizes the popularity of current forms of social media and the advantages to using them as tools in providing services and programs to its patrons. The ease of acquiring a social media presence, however, can be deceptive when the realities of the responsibility of the presence are considered. The Library supports the use of these tools while providing reasonable cautions for them.


Social media is defined as (but not limited to): blogging, wikis, instant messaging, listservs, sites designed for personal comment (such as news editorial sites), and sites designed for sharing personal information (such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube). For the Library's purposes, social media would include any online activity which could be perceived as representing the Library as an institution regardless of whether the activity is part of a Library program, training event, or service.

Also for the Library's purposes, social media would include the use of online sites for the purpose of storage or exchange of work-related files (such as a sharing/storage site for digital photos or documents) regardless of whether the use of the site was intended for public distribution.

Approval of Online Presences

The Director must approve any and all representation of the Library on the Internet. No library employee may set up an online account of any kind that represents the Library without this approval even if the account is not intended for public distribution or access. Representing the Library in any way, even through a personal account, is subject to the approval of the Director. Representing the Library such as by commenting on an online blog or an online news article must also be approved by the Director. Failure to receive approval before securing an online account of any kind, by representing the Library within a personal account, or by representing the Library using a comment feature within a social media site (or regular website) will be considered a very serious offense and could result in termination of employment.

Open Records

All of the Library's online accounts are subject to the Open Records Act. It is the responsibility of the staff member charged with maintaining the account to track and archive information that might be considered eligible for Open Records Requests. Such information will be kept a minimum of two years, subject to the limitations of the online provider. The Library will not seek to archive information on a social media account using its own equipment. In some cases, a person making an Open Records Request may have to seek his/her information directly from the online provider.

Statement of Responsibility

The Library takes no responsibility for comments or data that may be uploaded by a member of the public to a social media site (or any website) that is maintained by the Library. Comments, postings, and links that appear on Library sites do not necessarily reflect endorsement or agreement by the Library with specific viewpoints, policies, practices, or products. Any views expressed on any Library sites are those of the individual post author only. The Library accepts no liability for the content of any such postings. The accessibility and vulnerability of this medium is, in many ways, beyond the control of the Library. Reasonable measures will be taken by Library staff to monitor any site that is maintained by the Library; however, given the need to manage staff resources, comments and postings will generally be monitored only during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.).

The Library assumes no responsibility for continuing an online presence once established. All services and promotions of the Library are subject to the Director's approval. Any online presence may be removed (without notice to subscribers) by decision of the Director. An online presence may become unsupported by the Library, but the Library may be unable to completely remove the online account. In such cases, the Library assumes no responsibility for the account and will make every reasonable effort to have it removed.

Library staff members who initiate or maintain an online account must familiarize themselves with and periodically review any End User Agreements that are provided by the social media site's host organization. Staff members may not make any agreements with an online provider which would infringe upon the privacy of its patrons, violate other Library policies, or obligate the Library in any way (including financially) beyond terms that are approved by the Director.

Access by the Public

In most cases, the Library will allow (within the restrictions imposed by the online provider) open access to its social media presences. In some cases, participation might be limited in order to fulfill the purposes of a specific program (such as a book group maintaining an internal online document to which only they have access). Approval for limited access to a social media site is determined by the Director.

The Library will not act in the place of a parent or caregiver for a juvenile in relation to social media. The decision on whether to allow a child to participate in online social media lies solely with the parent. The Library will not deny access to a juvenile. Responsibility for preventing or limiting access lies solely with the parent or caregiver.

Participation or access may be denied to a particular person by decision and determination of the Library Director. A staff member maintaining an online account is responsible for notifying the Director whenever such action needs to be taken.

Users of any online presence maintained by the Library agree to hold the Library, its staff, and its Board harmless against all liabilities, judgments, damages, and costs (including attorney's fees) incurred which arise out of or are related to the posted content.

Limited Public Forum

The Library recognizes its online presence as an extension of its physical facility and considers such online presence to be a limited public forum. As such, the Library has the discretion to post, remove, delete or choose not to post any statements, comments, images, or links to other sites made by users or staff members which are felt to violate that environment or that would also be inappropriate in its physical facilities. These include (but are not limited to):

• Obscene or racist content
• Personal attacks, insults, or threatening language
• Defamatory speech
• Potentially libelous statements
• Plagiarized or copyrighted material
• Private, personal information published without consent
• Comments totally unrelated to the content of the forum
• Hyperlinks to material that is not directly related to the discussion or the Library
• Commercial promotions or spam
• Organized political activity
• Any material disruptive to the general purposes and services of the Library

Requests for removal of statements from an online presence will be considered by the Director.

Personal Accounts

The Library assumes no responsibility for personal accounts that are maintained by its staff members. Staff members are not permitted to represent the Library in any way by using their personal accounts without the prior permission of the Director. If a staff member uses a personal account to represent the Library with or without permission, the Library reserves the right to request and maintain access to the account at all times.

Participation on a professional (library or position related) blog or listserv does not require the approval of the Library Director. Views and opinions of staff members, however, should not be considered the opinion or endorsement of the Library. Staff members may also use the Library's name as a designation of place of employment on personal accounts. Again, the use of the Library's name as a designation of employment should not be considered as the opinion or endorsement of the Library. (An example of what is not allowable: "As a staff member at the Anderson Public Library, the Library believes that...") The staff member may, however, express professional opinions while indicating the Library as a place of employment. (An example of what is allowable: "While I do not represent the views of the Anderson Public Library, I do work there and I believe that....")