Reference Through Social Media: Developing Standards, Guidelines, and Policies

Too often chat, social media, and text-based reference services operate without standards and policies. This eCourse will guide you in writing useful, concise, legally-sound standards and guidelines for providing reference through social media. Simply establishing basic greeting, closing, and tone standards that reflect user expectations will significantly improve user satisfaction. With a solid foundation of best practices, and practical advice on implementation and ongoing assessment, you and your colleagues will communicate with library users in a consistent and reliable way. 

Learning Outcomes


Learning Outcomes:
  • Adapting Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) standards and your own library’s reference standards to create guidelines for using social media in reference service
  • Learning how to communicate in a human, approachable, and professional manner via social media
  • Understanding key legal concepts that underlie virtual reference and social media policies
  • Ability to implement organizational practices that support high-level service


Sarah Steiner is the Social Work and Virtual Services Librarian at Georgia State University Library in Atlanta. For the past six years, she has been a leader in the library’s social media outreach, coordinating, assessing, and regularly staffing the library’s chat and text-message reference service. She is cofounder of the Carterette Series Webinars, which highlight trends, innovation, and best practices in Georgia libraries. As a 2011 Library JournalMover & Shaker, Steiner was recognized for creating networking and professional development opportunities for librarians. 

Date(s) & Time(s)

This three-week course begins on June 3, 2013.


Registration is $175.00 and is available at

Technical Requirements

Participants in this course will need regular access to a computer with an internet connection for online message board participation, viewing online video, listening to streaming audio (MP3 files), and downloading and viewing PDF and PowerPoint files.

How to Register

Registration is available at