Cushwa-Leighton Library Social Media Policy


Social media are powerful communication tools that have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. Because they blur the lines between personal voice and institutional voice, the Cushwa-Leighton Library has drafted the following policy to help clarify how best to enhance and protect institutional, professional, and personal reputations when participating in social media.

Social media serve as another access point to build relationships with the Saint Mary’s College community. Social media can be defined as platforms designed to be used to disseminate information through online social interaction, created using highly accessible publishing techniques. Examples include, but are not limited to blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.

In professional and institutional roles, employees need to follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in real life. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumnae, donors, media, and other university constituents apply online as in person. Employees are liable for anything they post to social media sites. The Saint Mary’s College Employee Handbook ( and the Governance Manual ( should serve as a guide for this professional and institutional voice.


The Cushwa-Leighton Library social media policy requires that:

  • Each social media account will have a responsible administrator/s assigned
  • Employees are liable for anything they post to Cushwa-Leighton social media sites
  • Best practices for social media accounts should be followed
  • Good judgment should be exercised when posting to social media platforms

General Guidelines for Social Media Sites

Confidentiality: do not post confidential information about Saint Mary’s College, students, employees or alumnae. Employees must follow applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPPA. Adhere to all applicable institutional privacy and confidentiality policies. Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action.

Consider copyright and fair use laws when posting information or images. Link posts to original sources whenever possible. Give credit when necessary. Speak with other librarians, and ultimately the Library Director, with questions, concerns, and for clarification.

Do not use Saint Mary’s College or the Cushwa-Leighton Library’s logos for endorsements or on your personal social media accounts. Do not use Saint Mary’s College or the Cushwa-Leighton Library’s name to promote a product, a cause, or a political party or candidate.

Seek out others’ voices: consider student workers’ insight into posts that will be effective and interesting, but do not give a student or student worker the passwords to any social media platforms used. Rely on a team of faculty and staff to directly post about activities around campus and in the larger community. Work as a group to keep accounts updated and relevant.

Institutional Social Media

When you post on behalf of an official College department or campus group, the following policies must be adhered to in addition to all policies and best practices listed above:

Acknowledge that this is the Library when posting on a social media platform by using official Library accounts.

Anything with a French cross symbol has to be approved by the Student Involvement and Multicultural Services (SIMS ) office. The French cross is a religious symbol, so it cannot be obstructed by anything.

Librarians should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date. More broadly, librarians should consider Saint Mary’s College’s Mission Statement ( when posting to social media sites.

Link back to the College: whenever possible, link back to the Saint Mary’s College or Cushwa-Leighton Library’s website.

Protect our voice: posts on social media sites should protect the Library’s voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. Each individual librarian should consider a social media site as representing the College and the Library. Consider this when naming pages/accounts, selecting profile pictures and icons, and especially when selecting content to post—names, images, and posts should all be clearly linked to the Library or the College in some manner.

Seek approval: any messages that might act as the “voice” or position of the college or a group on campus must be approved by that group or the group’s leader (e.g. department chairs).

Monitor for content: assign an administrator or take turns among team members to regularly monitor postings and content. Aim for consistent times for postings and updates. The recommended minimum frequency is once a day to Facebook, at least once per day for Twitter, and weekly for other social media platforms. Followers will stop paying attention if you overload them with information. Prioritize scholarly work above posting to social media platforms and limit the amount of time spent on social media to ensure the highest quality of more pertinent work.

Best Practices

This section applies to anyone posting on the Library’s social media accounts in any capacity.

Privacy: privacy does not exist in the world of social media. If you would not say it at a conference or to a member of the media, do not post it online.

Be accurate: verify content prior to posting on a social media site. Check for spelling and grammatical errors.

Be transparent: make it clear that comments or posts are moderated for content, and that inappropriate comments or posts will be removed.

Be respectful: understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Encourage open dialogue and diverse viewpoints. Respond to comments with respect and. Discussion of opposing viewpoints is encouraged, but do not engage in online confrontation.

Know your audience: be aware that a presence in the social media world is easily made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, prospective employees, alumnae, and peers. Consider this before publishing a post to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.

Promote Library resources: whenever possible, promote Library resources and events that affect students. Use social media as marketing and outreach tools.

Personal social media sites: when using your personal social media accounts, identify your views as your own. If you identify yourself as a Saint Mary’s College faculty or staff member online, it should be clear that the views expressed in your posts are not necessarily those of the institution.

Allow comments, including negative ones: a good philosophy for comments is to encourage thoughtful discussion and differing viewpoints with the understanding that all comments made must be civil, respectful, accurate, and appropriate. If comments are lewd, libelous, incite violence or are otherwise hurtful or hateful speech directed at either individuals or groups, librarians who serve as account administrators reserve the right to delete such comments and/or the ability to comment.

Consider liability: you are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the Library’s platforms. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Increasingly, employers are conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.


Authored by Ula Gabrielle Gaha, 2014

*adapted from the Washington State University Libraries’ Social Media Policy (