Wednesday, October 21, 2009

School Library Journal Asks: Should Your Library Have a Social Media Policy?

I ran across an interesting article today (in fact, I ran across it in on Justin The Librarian's Twitter feed): Should Your Library Have a Social Media Policy? More and more, it seems like the answer is an unequivocal "Absolutely." As Ellyssa Kroski notes,

The benefits of establishing a social media presence are becoming increasingly apparent as companies such as Dell share their success stories, but we’ve also heard tales of embarrassing Facebook mishaps, hothead Twitterers, and outspoken bloggers. In a time when the distinction between personal and professional realms is fading and seemingly everyone has a Facebook or Twitter profile, a social media policy is a useful way to set some ground rules for employees with regard to their online activities. It’s also a reminder that the content that they post isn’t private and may ultimately reflect on the organization.

A social media policy can help establish clear guidelines for staff members who are posting on behalf of the organization as well as employees with personal social media accounts. There are also standards being created for users, letting them know what’s acceptable to post to an organization’s blog and community pages.
So what sorts of things should a social media policy take into account? Kroski's list of suggested policies (which cover employees personal online activities as well as work-related blogs and tweeting) includes posting disclaimers with personal opinions, showing respect for copyright laws and other bloggers, maintaining transparency and preserving confidentiality. These all may seem like no-brainers, but in a world where personal and professional lives are both increasingly spent online, having these sorts of rules in place has become necessary.

Personally, I try to never mention my work life on my personal blog. This was especially true when I was teaching -- talking about how my life intersected with my students' seemed too personal and potentially inflammatory for the internet. But this article has me wondering: now that so many of us live in public, how can we keep our personal lives seperate from our professional ones? As I move towards librarian-hood, should I be more circumspect about posting my little real-life worries and adventures online? On the internet, where does the person end, and the job begin?

- Nora Sawyer


  1. Here's a post from Heather Armstrong about losing her job because of her blog. She isn't a librarian, but she's kind of an icon on the don't-blog-about-work front: Collecting Unemployment

  2. Interesting ... are you going to use this article for your reflective/critique essay?

    Also, I've heard of Heather from Who Let the Blogs Out? by Biz Stone. As Biz says in his book, "It's a small world after all."

    - Caroline Han

  3. For now, I'm just throwing it out there for all of us as we read & think about blogs and twitter in the library setting. The reflective essay's too far off to contemplate!

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  5. Interesting ... I'm already on it. However, sometimes I think the article I'm using might not be appropriate; it's focused on classroom education and not on libraries.

    - Caroline Han (My internet handle is Katrover.)