Communications Policy

Photos, video, media relations and social media are all tools that help tell the engaging, vibrant story of the San Mateo County Libraries. The Communications Policy supports organizational strategies to raise awareness of services and communicate an inspiring vision and the library’s story of impact.

The purpose of this policy is to establish standards for and responsibilities regarding the means by which we communicate about the San Mateo County Libraries in a consistent and compelling voice. These standards ensure that San Mateo County Libraries is using media tools and methods that are compliant with existing policies and legal requirements.

Media Relations
With the intention of providing effective, responsive and consistent communications to our communities through news outlets, primary spokespersons for San Mateo County Libraries are the Communications Manager, Director of Library Services, and/or Chair of the JPA Governing Board.

Photographs and Video or Audio Recordings
San Mateo County Libraries are permitted to take photographs and video or audio recordings of people of all ages at the library and library sponsored events for publicity. If a patron does not want to be photographed or recorded, they need to “opt out” by notifying library staff. Names of patrons will not be used in publicity without consent. Commercial photography or recordings of Library signage, activities, events, equipment, visitors or staff are not allowed without advance permission.

Social Media
San Mateo County Libraries strives to use social media in advancing its organizational mission and goals. All official San Mateo County Libraries presences on social media sites or services are considered an extension of the organization’s information networks and are governed by the organization’s policies including e-mail, Internet usage and computer policies; this policy applies to all types of online public communications.

  • Official use by San Mateo County Libraries of social media services is ultimately the responsibility of Managers. Only authorized agents are permitted to conduct official San Mateo County Libraries business using social media sites and tools.
  • Library staff is responsible for complying with all applicable federal, state, and county laws, regulations, and policies. This includes adherence to established laws and policies regarding copyright, fair use, records retention, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), First Amendment, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), privacy laws and information security policies established by San Mateo County Libraries and the County of San Mateo.
  • San Mateo County Libraries reserves the right to withdraw certain posts and/or remove inappropriate comments that are not consistent with San Mateo County Libraries policy and in adherence to First Amendment laws.
  • San Mateo County Libraries will monitor all social media content and evaluate the effectiveness of the organization’s social media presence to ensure adherence to the Communications Policy for appropriate use, messaging and branding consistent with realizing the mission and vision of the San Mateo County Libraries.
  • Social Media and Internet postings should not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to San Mateo County Libraries or to any third party that has disclosed information to the organization.
  • San Mateo County Libraries Social Media and Internet postings should include San Mateo County Libraries logos or images.
  • Library staff communicating with the public and/or posting content in any San Mateo County Libraries sanctioned social media presence will be clearly identifiable as a San Mateo County Libraries employee and abide by the same employee code of conduct applied to normal business operations.
  • Staff members using social media are responsible for regularly reviewing and consistently following the San Mateo County Libraries Communications Policy.
  • San Mateo County Libraries employees posting library and/or public sector industry related content on personal social media account(s) should neither claim nor imply that they are speaking on the organization’s behalf. Staff members who regularly engage in such activity and identify themselves as employees of San Mateo County Libraries should note in their social media account a disclaimer to the effect of: "The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of San Mateo County Libraries."

Approved by the Library JPA Governing Board on February 5, 2018.

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