Social Media Policy

I was, initially, divided over which assignment to do for this requirement. Each assignment had plusses and minuses. At the end of the day, though, I find myself more and more interested in social media and so the social media policy became more appealing and so that is what I’ve done. I also liked the idea of librarians being able to directly foster the conversations their community might want to have. In doing this, librarians have a more direct link to the knowledge creation going on in their communities; I expect this would create more job satisfaction for the librarians.

For complicated reasons I have three different employers, and so my first impulse was to look for social media policies from my employers. The Department of Veterans Affairs, where my lab is located, has a very long, complicated social media policy (available as a PDF only). This document is about twenty pages long, and the documents included by reference would easily extend the document by that many more pages. While it covers the department’s needs, its length and wording pretty much ensure that anyone acting on the Department’s behalf on social media will not be in compliance with their policy. It will have a chilling effect and the Department’s social media presence will suffer.

Another employer, The University of California, San Francisco, has a more succinct policy expressed as a set of “best-practices” and a more explicit social media guidelines. These look like practices that are easy to work within yet have safeguards built in to protect the reputation and privacy of individuals and patients (important since UCSF is a medical school where patients go for treatment).

I won’t mention the last employer here (the employer which has no social media policy) because it’s clear they don’t want the engagement. They are in a position where they can count on the positive reputation of other institutions and individuals, so they don’t really need to take the risk that may come with social media presence. This employer provides back-office support to researchers and labs, so they may perceive the value of engaging with the public in this way to be low.

Ultimately, while I liked the approach that High Tech Dad took for its conciseness, I also liked the idea of having a bit more substance in my policy. People like to know why they’re doing what they’re doing, so my policy includes a bit more. It also discusses briefly potential new services. I’ve taken care to keep the discussion positive–it’s more useful to tell folks what they may do instead of telling them what they may not do.

Library Social Media Policy