Social Media Policy


This policy establishes guidelines for the use of East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) social media sites as a means of engaging with patrons, promoting events and services, and showcasing the Library. 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 forum for discussion of Library-related information. The East Lansing Public Library has an overriding interest and expectation in deciding what is "spoken" on behalf of the Library on Library social media sites.

East Lansing Public Library is committed to:

  • Maintaining the highest levels of accuracy, objectivity, and impartiality in the information that we communicate
  • Providing accessible and inclusive services
  • Responding to questions and concerns
  • Respecting freedom of speech and difference of opinion while protecting staff and users from offensive, abusive, racist, or otherwise inappropriate speech

Definition of Social Media:

For the purposes of this policy, "social media" is understood to be electronic communication through which users create or interact in online spaces to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. Social media includes any webpage or app through which ELPL has an account and interacts with other users.

Examples of social media include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Flickr. For the purposes of this policy, "comments" include information, articles, pictures, videos or any other form of communicative content posted on an ELPL social media site.

Library Rights and Responsibilities:

The Library assumes the following rights and responsibilities:

  1. All East Lansing Public Library social media sites are subject to administrative oversight by the Library Director or their designee, the Marketing/Communications Specialist.
  2. Library social media sites should make clear that they are maintained by the East Lansing Public Library and that they follow the Library's Social Media Policy.
  3. Wherever possible, Library social media sites should link back to the website for forms, documents, online services and other information necessary to conduct business with ELPL.
  4. The Library's Marketing/Communications Specialist will monitor content on Library social media sites to ensure adherence to both the Library's Social Media Policy and the interest and goals of the Library.
  5. The Library reserves the right to ask that any content that is deemed in violation of the Social Media Policy or any applicable law be removed.
  6. The Library will approach the use of social media tools as consistently as possible, across all departments. The East Lansing Public Library's website,, will remain the Library's primary and predominant internet presence.
  7. All Library social media sites shall adhere to applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and policies.
  8. Comments should not be made on topics or issues that are not within the jurisdictional purview of ELPL.
  9. Employees shall also adhere to any internal departmental policies regarding social media.
  10. Library staff should protect patron privacy and confidentiality whenever possible; however, the Library cannot guarantee the privacy of any patron using this service.
    1. a. The Library reserves the right to reproduce comments and posts tagging the Library in other public venues (ex: testimonials). Reproductions of this nature may be edited for space or content, but the original intent of the comment or post will be maintained. By posting on the Library's social media sites, users give the Library permission to use their name, profile picture, and the content of any posting without compensation to the user or liability on the part of the Library. This permission ends when the content is deleted.
    2. We ask all patrons, especially minors, using services on our website and social media sites to limit the amount of personal information they provide. We do not ask for more personal information from children than is necessary, and we encourage parents and caregivers to tell their children about the importance of (i) not revealing personal information online and (ii) asking for permission before giving their last name or personal information to any website.
    3. The Library will not collect, sell, or knowingly transfer to any third party any personally identifiable information related to social media engagement with the Library. We will share personal data with other institutions only as required by law.
    4. Please be advised that each social media platform has its own privacy policies, which should be carefully reviewed and adhered to.
  11. Responsibility for social media content engaged with by children and adolescents rests with the youth's parents or legal guardians. The Library does not stand in loco parentis.
    1. Please be advised that each social media platform additionally has its own minimum age of use requirements, which should be carefully reviewed and adhered to.
  12. The social media content of a public library can be subject to an open records, or Freedom of Information Act, request. All user's posts that are hidden for any reason whatsoever shall be securely retained in accordance with the City of East Lansing's retention schedule.

Library Staff Responsibilities:

Library Staff assume the following responsibilities:

  1. Content creation, implementation, and strategy is the responsibility of the Marketing/Communications Specialist, subject to review by the Library Director. The Specialist shall be the only staff member to post to official Library accounts, unless other specific arrangements have been approved in writing. The Specialist shall be the primary admin of social media accounts, and other admins shall be the Library Director and Head of IT.
  2. All Library staff responsible for contributions to Library social media platforms should be thoroughly trained, not only in best practices for individual social media platforms, but in the mission, values, and positions of the Library and its governing body.
  3. Employees representing the Library via Library social media sites must conduct themselves, at all times, as a representative of the Library and in accordance with all Library policies. Personal/political opinions, negative comments and inappropriate and/or discriminatory language shall not be used by Library staff.
  4. The Library shall monitor its social media sites for comments requesting responses from the Library and for comments in violation of this policy. Responses to public comments shall remain factual and civil. Responses to public comments shall not be argumentative in nature. Library employees should use best judgment when responding; responses to negative comments are not necessary unless an answer to a legitimate question or a clarification can be provided. Library employees should avoid a public debate on Library social media sites when possible.
  5. Library employees are permitted to post on the Library's social media sites using their personal accounts during their personal time outside of work, but in doing so they speak only as a citizen addressing matters of public concern. When a Library employee posts information or makes comments on Library social media sites, they are not presenting official Library sponsored information or comments, and should make clear as such, unless specifically stating they have been authorized by the Library to speak on the Library's behalf. When utilizing the Library's social media, Library employees must also follow all established employment-related policies and guidelines.
  6. Library staff will ensure they are sharing complete and accurate information, including testing links to make sure they work, ensuring that all images and sounds used are properly licensed to the Library or noncommercial public domain, and linking information back to the Library website whenever possible.
  7. All Library staff should be logged out of all Library social media accounts when not actively working with social media. Library staff should ensure that they are liking and posting things under the correct account, especially if their personal account is linked to a Library account.
  8. Following and liking other social media accounts from Library accounts is allowed; however, staff should think carefully about who to follow/like. Following other libraries is always encouraged, as well as other local and state organizations with which we collaborate. When in doubt, staff should ask for a second opinion from the Marketing/Communications Specialist or Library Director. The Library's social media accounts will be periodically reviewed to ensure that likes/follows are in line with this policy and the Library's goals and mission.
  9. Logins and passwords should be documented for use in a place accessible by all Library staff. No one staff member shall be solely responsible for the security or accuracy of login information; this is a shared responsibility.

Patron Usage Rules:

The Library will make this social media policy publicly available on its website at, and link to the policy from social media platforms whenever possible. By engaging with this service, patrons agree to abide by the Library's Social Media Policy. If any user does not agree to these terms, they are not to use the service, as violation of the terms may lead to legal liability. Patrons agree to indemnify the East Lansing Public Library and its officers and employees, from and against all liabilities, judgments, damages, and costs (including attorney's fees) incurred by any of them which arise out of or are related to posted content.

Although the Library welcomes the comments, posts, and messages of other social media users that relate to the Library, and recognizes and respects differences in opinion, the social media sites are limited public forums and are subject to review by Library staff members. The Library reserves the right to, but is not required to, hide any comment, post, or message that it deems in violation of this Policy. The Library's social media usage rules are as follows:

  1. Privacy: Users should have no expectation of privacy when commenting on Library posts or tagging the Library. Comments and posts may be read by anyone once posted, regardless of one's friends, followers, or subscribers list. The Library advises users against posting their personal information or contact information on social media sites. Comments and posts may also be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
  2. No Endorsement: The Library is not responsible for the content of posts made by third  parties, including patrons, reviewers, advertisers, and others who may post comments.  Comments posted by a member of the public on any East Lansing Public Library social media site are the opinion of the commenter or poster only and publication of a comment does not imply endorsement of, or agreement by, the East Lansing Public Library, nor do such comments necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the East Lansing Public Library. Social media users should exercise their own judgment about the quality and accuracy of any information presented through social media by third parties.
  3. Rules of Use: To ensure a healthy, safe space to discuss Library services, resources, and events, content containing any of the following may be hidden immediately from any Library social media forum:
    1. Obscene, illegal, sexually harassing, threatening, racist, or abusive speech
    2. Threats to any person or organization, and any post that affects the safety and security of the Library, its property, patrons and staff or creates a hostile work environment
    3. Private or personal information, including phone numbers and addresses, or requests for personal information
    4. False or misleading information, and any statement by a user under a false name or any falsification of identity
    5. Spam or other commercial messages and posts that would violate the Michigan Campaign Finance Act or other election laws
    6. Comments in support of, or in opposition to, any political campaigns or ballot measures
    7. Comments not related to the original topic, including random or unintelligible comments
    8. Solicitation of funds
    9. Any comment, post or other content that violates any person's intellectual property rights, including but not limited to violations of the Copyright Act.
    10. Any information deemed harmful to minors or that violates the Michigan Library Privacy Act
    11. Any post that violates any Library policy
    12. Content that promotes, fosters, or perpetuates discrimination based on race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, student status, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin
    13. Conduct in violation of any federal, state or local law
    14. Encouragement of illegal activity
    15. Any images, links, or other content that falls into the above categories
  4. Third Party Usage Rules: In addition, users are expected to abide by the terms and conditions set by third party social media platforms as well as follow appropriate Federal and State Law.
  5. Access: The East Lansing Public Library reserves the right to deny access to Library social media sites for any individual who violates the Library's Social Media Policy, at any time and without prior notice.

Photos and Consent:

By attending Library events in public spaces, patrons give the Library permission to use their likeness (or their child's likeness) in photographs in print and online, including on social media and in press releases, without compensation to the user or liability on the part of the Library. This permission may be revoked in writing at any time. As a best practice, Library staff will obtain verbal consent to share photos, when possible, especially when using photos for print publication, but this is not necessary to use the photos.

Violations and Appeals:

The East Lansing Public Library administrators will review the Social Media Policy periodically and reserve the right to amend it at any time. Any appeals for changes to, or exceptions to, any portion of the Social Media Policy will be considered. Any individual wishing to file an appeal shall submit it to the Marketing/Communications Specialist in writing, which will then be shared with the Library Director and other appropriate administrators. The Library Director will respond in writing with the Library Director's decision.

The East Lansing Public Library reserves the right to deny access to Library social media sites for any individual who violates the Library's Social Media Policy, at any time and without prior notice. The Library also reserves the right to hide posts or comments in violation of this policy. To the extent the Library has sufficient contact information, the Library will message users that have been blocked to explain the issue and notify the person of the action. Any person who has been blocked or whose post or comment has been removed has the right to appeal that decision.

Participants of Library social media who would like to appeal for changes to the Social Media Policy, who have had their content removed, or who have been prohibited from participating on a Library social media page may submit a formal petition to the Marketing/Communications Specialist to have the decision reviewed. To do this, the participant must do the following:

  • Submit in writing via email or traditional mail an explanation as to why their content does not violate the East Lansing Public Library Social Media Policy.
    • Email petitions should be sent to:
    • Mailed petitions should be addressed to:
                   Marketing/Communications Specialist
                   950 Abbott Rd.
                   East Lansing, MI, 48823
  • Upon receipt, the Library Director will review the appeal and provide a response via email or traditional mail within 30 business days. The Library Director may confer with other Library and City administrators, including the city attorney's office, before deciding.
  • If the appeal is upheld, the participant may repost the deleted content.
  • If the participant is still dissatisfied with the library's decision, they may appeal to the Library Board of Trustees. The final appeal lies with the Library Board of Trustees.


Approved June 1, 2009

Approved October 12, 2022


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