“Do you think libraries need policies regarding the use of social software tools? Why or why not?”

In my second semester of library school, I took a class on Archives and Manuscripts by a professor who will remain nameless. He stressed over and over the importance of having policies, mostly because they tend to save your rear-end when a manager or a possible benefactor try to pressure you to do something. This professor told us that the Patriot Act policy for his archives was, that if federal officers come to the archives demanding items to be turned over, we should fake heart attacks.

There is a part of me that refuses to believe he was completely joking.

While I support flexibility, I think it is very important that libraries have policies to govern the use of social software tools. They don’t need to be anything lengthy nor tedious. I think clearly stating the mission of social networking use for the library is a good start. I think it is important that the policy is clear about how the library’s social networking is to be used because often it’s quite different than how a person uses their personal social networking accounts. Having a policy helps staff be better able to address patron concerns about things like blog posts, tweets, and blog comments.