Social media is media crafted to be used to broadcast information through online social networks, formed using highly scalable and accessible publishing systems such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (McCallum, 2015). Social media is a powerful communication tool that has a substantial effect on professional and organization reputations. Since they blur the boundaries between an institution and personal voice, most libraries have designed policies that would aid to clarify how best to protect and improve professional, individual as well as institutional reputations while taking part in social media.
Policies are meant to assist a library to have a consistent social media authority. Even as multiple voices speak on behalf of the library, they function to protect the librarys reputation. Social media policy also empowers the staff, not only the ones who have the official roles of the spokesperson for the library, but also all persons who work there. Policies give clear directions in their use of different social sites. Besides, they serve as a guide for decision-making wherever there is a social media conflict or a conundrum.
Admittedly, all materials and information produced by library social media sites are the property of that library. Usually, the library retains the copyrights on all graphic images, text as well as other content that has been generated by the members of the library and found on the page of the social platform. Users may be allowed to print copies of material and information for non-commercial individual use as long as they retain the symbol of copyright or any other propriety notice intact on any copied material that has been copyrighted (National Library of Australia, 2015). A credit line such as "Courtesy of Oxford University Library is most commonly accepted and used globally.
Moreover, the use of library photos, logos, text, and other graphic content for commercial purposes without the direct written permission of the library is prohibited. Additionally, the use of the librarys content for any non-governmental purposes is not allowed. Any individual found redistributing or regenerating a third party copyright must abide by the terms and conditions of the third party copyright owner.
Similarly, while comments and posts are encouraged on many libraries social media platforms, most of them are moderated by the library staff and are typically limited to public forums. All content that is posted including but not limited to photos, links, and comments, must be related to the discussions, programs events, issues, activities and projects of the library.
Specifically, political statements containing comments that oppose or endorse individual political candidates are prohibited. Also, posting religious statements with comments that support or oppose any religious activities or opinions are not allowed. Moreover, comments and posts that favor, perpetuate, and foster discrimination by gender, religion, color, mental or physical disability is illegal. Posts considered offensive, harassing, vulgar or personal attacks are banned. Again, obscene content or posting links to illegal activity or sexual content is unlawful (Cleveland Public Library, 2010). Security is paramount in the library social media sites. Therefore, information that may be likely to compromise the safety of its content is strictly not allowed.
Consequently, to effectively monitor and manage these public libraries social media platforms, libraries reserve all the rights to get rid of any posted content that does not comply with its policies. They are regularly reviewed to ascertain that they are up to the required standards. Furthermore, staff may also ban individuals who post inconsistent posts or materials from publishing any additional information to the librarys social media platforms. Before blocking the persons who violate the libraries policies, those individuals are first served with warnings and, after that, blocked if they continue with their posts.
As a result, most libraries have established social media platforms mainly to notify and update users. The updates may be about the library programs, upcoming events, as well as employment opportunities. Moreover, it may inform users on available materials and also encourage dialogue and exchange of information between the users and the staff (Thomas Crane Public Library, 2012).
Besides, the librarys social media platforms are not planned to be traditional public forums involved in the exchange of viewpoints and ideas, but is limited to public forums for discussing library programs, materials, and events. Indeed, libraries do not open their social media accounts for the discourse of the overall public but rather limits the subjects to be discussed on their sites. Although libraries encourage discussions, they politely request that commenters keep in mind that its social media platforms are courteous.
Conventionally, every post to the library social media is purposed to promote the libraries mission. Posts to social media include information that is interrelated with the librarys services, patrons, and buildings (McCallum, 2015). The principal target of librarys social media is to boost reach and relations with the existing, past, as well as potential users.
Undoubtedly, the intended audience for most library social media platforms is students, employers, and the elite in society. As a result, before publishing anything on the platform, there is a need to evaluate the post and be mindful of the users to ensure that the post will not in any way provoke, alienate or harm any of them.
In a nutshell, by joining, posting, and using the librarys social media platforms, it is paramount that the policies must be complied with at all times. This is important in establishing professionalism in the management and efficient running of the sites. The users, as well as institution's reputation, are maintained appropriately. Additionally, thorough research has to be carried out to enhance crafting of proper policies that would fill loopholes that emerge with the increasing technology. While appreciating the efficient management of the library social sites, automation of review system for the post is an existing research gap that researchers should invest their resources.
Cleveland Public Library. (2010). Policy on the Use of CPLs Social Media Sites Cleveland Public Library. Retrieved from http://cpl.org/thelibrary/aboutthelibrary/usingthelibrary/policy-on-the-use-of-cpls-social-media-sites/
McCallum, I. (2015). Use of social media by the library: Current practices and future opportunities. A white paper from Taylor & Francis. The Australian Library Journal,64(2), 161-162. doi:10.1080/00049670.2015.1040364
National library of Australia. (2015). Social media policy | national library of Australia. Retrieved from https://www.nla.gov.au/policy-and-planning/social-media
Thomas Crane Public Library. (2012). Thomas crane public library. Social Media Policy. Retrieved from http://thomascranelibrary.org/sites/default/files/Social%20Media%20Policy.pdf
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