This policy governs the publication of and commentary via social media by members of the YALSA Board of Directors when they are speaking as YALSA Board members. For the purposes of this policy, social media means any tool for online publication and commentary, including, but not limited to blogs, wikis, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.
Board member posts on social media can help YALSA expand its reach and increase its impact by: helping to raise awareness about the mission and work of the Board and the association, building a sense of community among members and potential members, helping to improve the knowledge or skills of librarians and library workers, providing a virtual means to engage members and potential members, and more.
Social media is an effective communication tool but sometimes it can be challenging for Board members to reconcile their public and private social media activities in terms of their role as a YALSA Board member.Â Social media is designed for self-expression and encourages conversations. This policy provides a framework for Board members to engage in these activities effectively and ethically.
Statement of Policy
While serving on the YALSA Board of Directors, Board members are both granted permission to and are encouraged to use social media as a conduit for informing the young adult library community about projects and initiatives of the association and work of the Board. This needs to occur in a professional and ethical manner.
Publication and commentary via social media channels carries similar obligations to other YALSA publications or commentary. All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that YALSA Board members follow in their face-to-face Board practices. YALSA Board members must consider the Board Conflict of Interest Policy and Board Member Contract when posting as a Board member on social media sites.
Board members must also comply with relevant ALA policies, including those that relate to ALA elections and campaigning. ALA policy states “appointed committee chairs, or members of committees may endorse candidates, and may use ALA electronic discussion lists to express their support for individual candidate or candidates for ALA offices, as long as they do not use their official titles or create an impression that they are speaking on behalf of an ALA committee or unit of ALA.Â Candidates can list endorsers by name, but not by ALA title or office. Executive Board members shall not endorse any candidate in any ALA election.”
In order to protect the 501c3 status of ALA/YALSA, there are topics that association members are not permitted to write about in any format, including social media. Speaking as an ALA/YALSA member, individuals cannot endorse or oppose a product or company or call for a boycott of a product or company.Â In addition, individuals speaking as an ALA/YALSA member may not endorse or oppose any federal, state or local candidate running for political office.
The YALSA name may not be used in social media identities, logon ID’s and user names without prior approval from the President and Executive Director.
Following the Policy
It is best to err on the side of caution. If a Board member is unsure whether or not something is appropriate to post on social media, he or she should contact the President and Executive Director before making the post live. If a Board member, for whatever reason, takes an action that is in conflict with this policy, he or she will be contacted by the President to resolve the situation and may be asked to withdraw, correct, or revise postings.
- In order to help distinguish when you’re speaking as an individual and when you’re speaking as a YALSA Board member, you may want to consider setting up two accounts for each of the social media tools on which you post.Â One account would be used for your role as a YALSA Board member the other account would be used for your personal postings.
- YALSA believes in transparency and honesty. Use your real name, be clear who you are, and identify what capacity you serve in YALSA and do not post anonymously, using pseudonyms or false screen names.
- Use tags when posting YALSA content (e.g. #yalsa or @yalsa) to help ensure your message reaches its targeted audience.
- Post frequently and respond to comments and replies from others quickly and accurately.
- Know and respect your audience, including YALSA and its members
- Be smart and protect your privacy by taking simple steps such as avoiding posting personal details, like phone numbers; reading web sites’ privacy policies, making use of privacy settings on social media sites, etc.
- Avoid social media arguments and debates and alert the President and Executive Director if you see a misrepresentation made about YALSA in social media. If you yourself are accused by anyone of posting something improperly, inform the President and Executive Director of the situation promptly in order to determine best next steps and to quickly resolve the situation.
- Regardless of what account you use for posting as a Board member, be sure to limit your Board-related posts to sharing information about the work of the Board, news and announcements from the Board, etc. Personal opinions about individual Board members, specific Board decisions, etc. are not appropriate.Â Â Â Once the Board has taken action on a particular issue, the Board speaks with one voice--even if a particular Board member’s vote on an issue was a dissenting opinion.Â Differences among Board members must be respected and encouraged, but once a vote is taken those who dissented must accept the decision and support its implementation.
- Before posting, ask yourself if the post will improve knowledge or skills of YALSA members, if it contributes directly or indirectly to the improvement of YALSA, if it builds a sense of community or it helps to promote YALSA’s mission.
- Write about what you know (if needed, verify any Board or YALSA related facts, dates, etc. from the President or Executive Director).
- The following are some examples of the kinds of posts a Board member might share via social media:
- Announcements: “YALSA Board meeting coming up, reading through the documents we’ll be talking about, looking forward particularly to the discussion on a social media policy for Board members.”
- Board Liaison work: “I always find it interesting to read through YALSA’s Quarterly Chair Reports as it provides a very good overview of the work of YALSA member groups.”
- New projects: “Did you know that the YALSA Board is considering a new award for those that write for its publications? You can read about it on the YALSA website at.....”
- Basics of YALSA governance: “Did you know that all YALSA Board meetings are open, even when they are held by conference call. Find out more on the YALSA website....”
- Marketing: “Congratulations to Angela Carstenson on the new book she edited for YALSA, ‘Outstanding Books for the College Bound.’Â Learn more at…”
- PR: “Can’t wait to get to ALA’s Midwinter Meeting to find out who will win this year’s Printz Award from YALSA!”
- Member engagement: “YALSA’s Board just established a YALSAblog Advisory Board.Â Fill out a volunteer form online if you want to be appointed to this group.”
- What you publish will be around for a long time so consider the content carefully.Â Strive to make sure it is accurate and professional.
- It is good general practice to link to others’ work rather than reproduce it. Adhere to the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others, including YALSA’s own trademarks, copyrights and brands.Â
- Always ask for permission from the President and Executive Director before identifying a member, partner, or sponsor and never discuss confidential details of any individual’s or organization’s engagement in YALSA.
- Use your best judgment and be sure to make it clear that any views expressed are yours alone and do not represent the official views of YALSA.Â
- Bring out your own personality and say what’s on your mind (in a respectful and professional tone).
Adopted by the YALSA Board of Directors, August 26, 2011