Social Media Policy

The Harris County Public Library (HCPL) selects carefully chosen social media tools as an important enhancement to communication, collaboration and information exchange between HCPL staff, library users and the general public. HCPL recognizes that new tools will emerge which have useful application in the library setting; thus, this policy addresses social media in general.

Library social media offerings are intended to create a welcoming and inviting online space where library users will find useful and entertaining information. In some forums, users may be able interact with library staff and other library users.

“Social Media” refers to community created content sites like blogs, forums, Flickr, YouTube, wikis, social networks, Pinterest, Twitter  and other content sharing sites. It includes: 

  • • material created by the library and maintained by library staff
  • • material created by library staff on sites hosted and created by the library
  • • material created on other social media sites when acting as a library employee

When staff uses social media, behavior and content is not only a reflection of the staff member, but also of the Library. This policy complements, rather than overrides, any existing requirements that staff act professionally, respectfully and honestly. 

If a staff member does not know how to act or communicate within Social Media, please review these guidelines with him/her.

If a staff member is about to publish something that makes him or her even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit ‘send.’ Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what the issue is, and then fix it. If the staff member is still unsure, discuss it with a manager, the Coordinator of Marketing & Programming, or the eBranch Librarian.


  • • Social Media accounts are only created by the eBranch.  The names of pages or accounts should not be changed and should clearly represent HCPL.
  • • Decisions regarding new social media outlets are made by the eBranch Librarian and Coordinator of Marketing and Programming.  Branches should not create accounts on new sites.
  • • All content is reviewed and is subject to being edited or deleted by the eBranch and Marketing departments.
  • • Where possible, each social media page should clearly indicate that it is maintained by HCPL and should have HCPL contact information prominently displayed.
  • • Where possible, each social media page/profile should include an introductory statement about the page/profile.
  • • Where possible, social media pages should link to HCPL’s official website and this social media policy.  For branch oriented pages, they should link to the branch web page where possible.
  • • User discussion and contribution on library social media sites is subject to the Public Terms of Use. This shall be clearly indicated on the social media page that invites participation.
  • • Social media content shall adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and policies, including all information technology and records management policies.
    • o Content is subject to public records laws.
    • o Content shall be managed, stored, and retrieved to comply with open records laws and e-discovery laws and policies.

Staff Responsibilities

When representing HCPL via social media, staff should:

  • • Conduct themselves at all times as representatives of HCPL
  • • Identify themselves by name as HCPL personnel
  • • Not make statements about patrons, or post, transmit, or otherwise disseminate confidential information in violation of HCPL’s Confidentiality Policy
  • • Not represent postings as official HCPL opinion or policy, unless this has been clearly approved by the Library Director
  • • Not conduct political activities or personal business
  • • Observe and abide by all copyright, trademark, and service mark restrictions in posting materials to electronic media.

Public Terms of Use

  • • HCPL has no affiliation with any advertisements or other material posted by third party sites or software.
  • •  By choosing to comment on HCPL Social Media sites, public users agree to these terms:
    • o Comments are moderated by HCPL staff, and HCPL has the sole discretion to not post or to remove comments that are unlawful or off topic.
    • o Persons who repeatedly violate these terms may be barred from further postings.
    • o The library does not collect, maintain or otherwise use the personal information stored on any third party social media site in any way other than to communicate with users on that site.