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Social Media Policy

The Cook Memorial Public Library District (“The Library”) uses social media to increase awareness of and accessibility to its programs, resources and services in order to serve its mission. The purpose of this policy is to address use of social media activities including but not limited to blogs, social networks, online communications, online catalogs, websites, and mobile applications, and content sharing platforms by the Library and its employees, volunteers, elected officials, and patrons. The Library’s social media sites are not intended to be traditional public forums for the general exchange of ideas and viewpoints, but a limited public forum for discussing Library programs, events and materials. The Library does not make its social media accounts available for general public discourse, but rather reserves and limits the topics that may be discussed on social media accounts.

Article I. Library – Sponsored Social Media

Only those employees authorized by the Library Director to be responsible for the Library’s social media sites should be actively participating on those sites during work hours.

Library Employees should keep in mind the following best practices when posting on the Library’s social media accounts on behalf of the Library:

  1. Social media accounts will not be monitored 24/7. Questions and comments will be responded to within 2 business days as necessary, and during the normal business hours of the Library.
  2. Employees engaged in social networking activities, as representatives of the Library, shall act and conduct themselves according to the highest possible ethical and professional standards when communicating via the Library’s social media accounts. Employees who contribute to the Library’s social media accounts should present content in a professional manner and should check facts, cite sources, avoid copyright infringement, present factual responses, acknowledge and correct errors and check grammar and spelling before posting.
  3. Employees should not discuss confidential, work-related matters through social media.
  4. Content that is posted on Library-sponsored social media sites is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and records retention requirements.
  5. Content posted on the Library’s social media accounts may be conversational in nature but must remain professional, particularly if responding to a comment. Employees using the Library’s social media accounts shall respect and accept opinions of those interacting with the Library’s social media accounts, regardless of whether such opinions are positive or negative, provided the opinions are on topic and not offensive, denigrating or completely out of context.
  6. Disputes between a Library spokesperson and commenter on the Library’s social media accounts shall be avoided.
  7. Comments or responses on Library social media accounts should be limited. The Library’s social media designee should limit his/her response to providing a factual response to a question posed (for example: when is the next Library Board meeting); (2) providing the information for the appropriate department of the Library that would be most helpful; or (3) encouraging or directing persons interacting with the Library’s social media accounts to use appropriate resources to request a Library service. The Library Director or his/her designee should work to develop standard responses to public questions and comments.
  8. Employees using the Library’s social media accounts shall obey all privacy protection laws (i.e. HIPAA) and protect sensitive and confidential Library information at all times.

Article II. Employee Personal Use of Social Media

Library employees have the same right to self-expression enjoyed by members of the community as a whole when discussing matters of public concern. As public employees, Library employees are cautioned that speech made pursuant to official duties is not protected speech under the First Amendment and may form the basis for discipline if deemed a violation of any policy of the Library. Employees should keep in mind the following best practices when posting content about library-related subjects and issues on personal time.

  1. If you identify yourself as an employee of the Library, make it clear that the views expressed are yours alone and do not represent the views of the Library
  2. Respect the Library’s confidential and proprietary information. Do not post information that is still in draft form or is confidential.
  3. No comments with any kind of negative, mocking, condescending, etc. slant should be made about patrons in general, about specific questions from patrons, or about patron behavior on the Library’s social media sites.
  4. The Library does not endorse, monitor or review the content of personal, non-Library related social media activity of its employees.
  5. Employee use of personal social media is not permitted during working hours except for work-related purposes such as professional development or library-related social media outlets.
  6. No library employee should comment on litigation involving the Library on the Library’s social media accounts, or any personal social media accounts, without prior approval from the Library’s Attorney.

Article III. Trustee Use of Social Media

Library trustees have the same right to self-expression enjoyed by members of the community as a whole when discussing matters of public concern. Trustees should keep in mind the following best practices when posting content about library- related subjects on social media.

  1. If you identify yourself as a Library Trustee, make it clear that the views expressed are yours alone and do not represent the views of the Library or other trustees.
  2. Respect the Library’s confidential and proprietary information. Do not post information that is still in draft form or is confidential.
  3. No comments with any kind of negative, mocking, condescending, etc. slant should be made about library patrons or staff in general, about specific questions from patrons, about interactions with staff of the library, or about patron behavior on the Library’s social media sites.
  4. No Library Trustee should comment on litigation involving the Library on the Library’s social media accounts, or any personal social media accounts, without prior approval from the Library’s Attorney.
  5. Library Trustees should be mindful of the provisions of the Open Meetings Act, in order to avoid discussions regarding Library business by multiple members of the Board on social media, so as not to violate the Act’s provisions regarding these types of communications.

Article IV. Posting on Social Media

The Library permits patrons to comment on Library posts. Patrons and the public are invited to share opinions about Library-related subjects, resources and programs. Postings by patrons and the public do not indicate Library endorsement of the ideas, issues, or opinions expressed in posts on its social media sites.

The purpose of the Library’s social media sites is to inform Library users about educational opportunities, library programs, events (including those co-sponsored with other organizations) and materials, and to encourage dialogue and the exchange of information and knowledge between users and Library staff about these programs, events and materials. The Library reserves the right to restrict or remove any content that is deemed to be in violation of this policy or any applicable law. Content that is deemed not suitable for posting by the Library because it is not topically related to the particular subject being commented on, or is deemed prohibited based on the criteria defined below, shall be retained pursuant to the records retention schedule along with a description of the reason(s) the specific content was deleted. Content and comments on the Library’s social media accounts containing any of the following forms of content and postings shall not be allowed:

  1. Obscenity or child pornography
  2. Content that promotes, fosters, or perpetuates discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of race, creed, color, age, gender, marital status, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, ancestry or any other protected category.
  3. Slanderous, libelous, threatening or defamatory statements.
  4. Copyrighted or trademarked material.
  5. Spam.
  6. Content not related to Library business, programs, events, resources and materials.
  7. Advertising or sale of merchandise or services; or
  8. Charitable solicitations or political campaigning
  9. The library does not collect, maintain or otherwise use the personal information stored on any third party site in any way other than to communicate with users on that site, unless permission is granted by users.

Article V. Patron Participation

By joining, utilizing and/or posting on the Library’s social media sites, you agree to comply with this Policy, and the Library’s Policy on Internet and Computer Use, as applicable. The Library’s Social Media Policy applies whether or not a patron chooses to post comments using a computer at the Library or when posting from any other computer to any Library social media site. While the Library encourages dialogue, it respectfully requests that commenters be mindful that its social media sites are open to the public and that commenters be courteous and civil toward one another.

Article VI. Disclaimer

Patrons are personally responsible for their commentary. Patrons should be aware that they may be held personally liable for commentary that is defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libelous by any offended party, not just the Library.

All content posted on Library social media sites is subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the State of Illinois record retention laws. Therefore, all Library social media sites shall clearly indicate that any articles and content posted or submitted for posting are subject to public disclosure.

By posting on the Library’s websites and social media sites, patrons and the public give the Library permission to use their name, profile picture, and the content of any posting they make without compensation to them or liability on the part of the Library. Users should be aware that third party websites have their own privacy policies and should proceed accordingly.

The Library reserves the right to edit and modify Library-authored posts for space and content, while retaining the intent of the original post.

The Library, its employees, agents and officials assume no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from participation in Library-sponsored social media. Violations of this policy by staff may result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment.

By joining , utilizing and/or posting on the Library’s social media sites, patrons and the public agree to comply with this Policy, the Library’s Electronic Information Networks Policy, the Library’s Wireless Internet Access Policy, and the Library’s Use of the Library Policy, as applicable.

Postings that the Library Director or his/her designee deems to have violated this Policy may be removed in whole or in part by the Library Director or designee. The Library reserves the right to terminate accounts and ban or block users who have posted in violation of this Policy on more than one occasion. The Library reserves the right to deny access to any and all of the Library’s social media sites for any individual or entity who violate this Policy or applicable laws, at any time and without prior notice. The Library will retain a record of removed posts for the designated period of time required by the Records Retention Act.

Any social media user who has been banned or had a message/content deleted may appeal this decision, in writing or email, to the Library Director. The Library Director may affirm or reverse staff’s decision within 30 days of receiving the written appeal.

 

Adopted: 03/22/12

Revised: 06/21/16

Revised: 02/16/21

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