Libraries Protecting Privacy on Social Media: Sharing without "Oversharing"




Libraries have increasingly adopted social media as an integral means of connecting with their users. However, social media presents many potential concerns regarding library patron privacy. This article presents the findings from a study of how librarians and library staff perceive and handle issues of patron privacy related to social media marketing in libraries. The study reports the results from a mixed-methods online survey, which used a nonprobability self-selection sampling method to collect responses from individuals employed by libraries, without restrictions on position or library type. Nearly three-quarters of respondents reported working in libraries that have either an official or unofficial social media policy. Approximately 53% of those policies mention patron privacy. The findings suggest that many respondents’ views and practices are influenced by the perception of the library’s physical space and social media presence as public places. The findings also suggest a lack of consensus regarding the extent of the library’s obligation to protect patron privacy on library social media sites and what would constitute a violation of privacy.