Creative Solutions

With the advent of social media and more and more libraries embracing these technologies, it becomes necessary to define just how these tools and technologies will be used.  One creative solution is to establish a Social Media Policy in the library so that these technologies are used to their full advantage in promoting the library, reaching out to patrons, and in a manner reflective of the library’s goals and mission.

I wrote these guidelines with the intention for a small, public library with the notion that it would be given to all employees at a new hire orientation and regardless of their role in the library.  The assumption is that all the librarians and staff will have some type of use for social networking tools whether it be the youth services department posting photos of a recent event or the reference librarian using an IM service.

Social Media Buttons From Mashable.com

Social networking is an important part of the library communications with our patrons.  It allows us as librarians to use various online tools such as email, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and instant messaging in order to virtually answer reference questions, share book reviews for reader’s advisory services, and even keep the local and larger communities connected to our library through discussions and photos.

Remember most, that the reputation of the library, its employees and the community it serves is foremost when posting to the web.

We advise all those working in our library to keep the following in mind when using our social networking tools for library purposes:

Communication

Our social networking tools are used in order to not only provide service, but to community and learn with our fellow librarians and industry professionals, our patrons, and the community around us.  We encourage everyone to seek out new uses of our tools, develop relationships through these tools and to learn more about the people we serve.

The social networking tools we use at our library are as typical as the majority norm of Facebook and Twitter and yet must remain fluid to keep up with the advances in social networking and technology.  If a social networking tool becomes obsolete or we find another tool more apparent that serves our needs and the patron’s needs, all efforts will be made to review the tool and test it in real use.

Respect

Please remember that even though we are online through social networking tools and our patrons or fellow employees don’t see us, we are still visible.  We must maintain professionalism and service through our choice of words and (for example, typing in all caps can often mean you are shouting to the other person), in addition to the actual answers and information we provide punctuation even though the tone of our communications can be more conversational.

When in doubt of whether or not the information you are posting or using, use the side of caution and save a draft.  Look at the information an hour later and if you still agree with the post, move forward.

Privacy

We also need to be aware that not all patrons want to share their information and may only provide a first name or just an email address, and that they are our patrons seeking our help.  We also need to be sure to get permission of patrons when posting photos, captions, names and other personal type of information.

In addition, we also need to be aware to not disclose any personal information about our coworkers or other sensitive library operations information that is not public knowledge, such as salaries or board member phone numbers.

For questions about or suggestions to these guidelines, please send them to the technology department.  The department also reviews our social networking sites regularly to ensure they adhere to these guidelines, maintain professionalism and legality.

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