More thoughts on our new social media reporting policy

So, a few weeks have gone by. As you may have noticed, I have not reinstated any of the RBSC or Friends of the Library  social media sites/profiles.

There have been some campus conversations about the new social media policy. During our faculty meeting this morning, it was explained that the monthly reporting is somehow tied to the Clery Act, which was not made clear in the initial rollout. Nor am I clear on exactly how the requirements really tie into the Clery Act. I will need to learn more, since my understanding was that the Clery Act focused on a specific list of crimes committed in person on campuses.

The NIU Libraries have decided that they don’t want to back away from social media in general, as they think it’s valuable outreach. They have designated a person from our systems department to conduct the monthly reporting on behalf of all of the library’s content producers (we just have to make them administrators on the blogs, Facebook pages, etc.  so that they can do so). They are planning to launch a library-wide Facebook page and WordPress blog, to which all faculty will be welcome to contribute content, with the designated staff person conducting the monthly reporting. Faculty are also welcome to maintain their departmental profiles with the added administrator.

On the one hand, the immediate problem (finding that level of required reporting onerous in relation to the amount of content I’m actually producing) is solved. I am generally not opposed to having someone else in the library be a Designated Reporter for my sites because I’m not producing any content that could be considered even remotely questionable. Most of my content is “Friends Event!” “Acquisition!” “Look Shiny!” *shrug* I am using these things as promotional tools, and create content accordingly.

Our policy allows me to do whatever I like with my personal accounts, so long as there’s the caveat that my opinions are my own and do not represent NIU in any way. I could just maintain my own stuff and not worry about it.

The RBSC sites themselves still exist (they were merely set to private). But I wonder if it would actually be better to contribute the special collections content into the not-yet-existing library-wide sites, in the hopes that they help to further integrate our department into the library as a whole, rather than keeping us off to the side. Once the library-wide stuff is set up.

I am still mulling my options, here. In principle, I still think that this level of reporting is an overreaction to the fear of possible bad behavior on social media such as bullying. I’m not certain that the metrics they are asking for will actually give them good information for their stated purpose. But, yanno, that’s not my problem. It’s theirs. If they are so interested in site stats, they now have a way to gather them without taking more time than I’m spending contributing content to those sites, without my having to do the reporting.

I’m considering what to do. As I consider, I’d love to hear y’all’s feedback on whether continuing these sites in some capacity is actually worth my while.

Because I do think this topic is worth some discussion well beyond my initial reaction of  “that will take way more time than I’m putting into generating content with very little return, so, no.”

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About Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas is a five time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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