Online and Social Media Policy

Effective Date: December 9, 2013

Policy Objective

This policy sets out how Toronto Public Library will use online and social media channels to address service objectives in a manner that is consistent with the Library's mission, vision and service values. The Online and Social Media Policy will:

The policy sets out requirements and provides guidance to Toronto Public Library (TPL) employees, authorized external contributors, and members of the public who engage in the Library's online and social media channels by outlining requirements for content, roles, responsibilities, legal obligations for contributors and a risk management strategy for the Library.

Underlying Principle

Toronto Public Library will use online and social media channels to extend the Library's welcoming and supportive service environment online in a manner which is consistent with the Library's mission, vision and services values.

Policy Statement

Online communication and service delivery are essential to support Toronto Public Library's mission of providing access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas, in a welcoming and supportive environment. The effective use of social media reflects the Library's service values and commitment to excellent and responsive public service.

The Library considers online and social media channels to be the same as other communications and service delivery channels. The same standards, policies, and guidelines apply to online and social media as all other forms of Library communication, and the same quality of service will be provided.

The Library supports the responsible and effective use of online and social media for Library purposes, including:

The Library does not accept any responsibility for any content that appears on its online and social media channels that does not originate from Toronto Public Library employees or authorized external contributors.

To ensure that the Library leverages the potential of online and social media while managing the inherent risks, the Library will:


Toronto Public Library's Online and Social Media Policy applies to the Library's online and social media activities, including but not limited to, blogs, social networks and online communities, websites and mobile applications.

This policy applies to all Library staff, authorized external contributors and members of the public who interact through the Library's online and social media channels.

This policy is meant to provide clarity and guidance to the unique considerations associated with online and social media channels, and works in collaboration with relevant legislation and TPL policies and procedures, such as the Rules of Conduct and the Employee Code of Ethics.

Roles and Responsibilities

TPL Staff

Through their presence in TPL's online communities, Library employees facilitate communication, provide information services, and offer customer service.

Toronto Public Library recognizes that employees are committed to high standards of ethical and professional communication, and expects this behavior to continue in the online environment. Social media is an extension of the Library's traditional channels and the Library service values therefore apply.

Postings, comments and all online content should reflect the mission and values of the Library, and adhere to the guidelines and best practices outlined by the Toronto Public Library.

An employee who becomes aware of an online incident or any content on a TPL channel that contravenes this policy or the Library's Terms of Use must report it to a supervisor in a timely fashion.

Social media content created by an employee as part of his or her employment responsibilities is the property of the Library and not the employee.

Staff are encouraged to promote TPL on personal social media accounts as appropriate. However, staff are not required to use personal social media accounts for work-related purposes and activities.

When using social media for personal use and when identifiable as a Library employee, staff must be aware of their role in the organization and the potential impact of their communications on the brand, reputation and service values of Toronto Public Library and act appropriately and with good judgment.

When using social media platforms, other than those belonging to TPL, for work-related purposes, employees are expected to comply with the applicable terms and conditions of use.

In accordance with TPL's policies and procedures, the Library may take appropriate action in response to prohibited behavior, up to, and including, dismissal and/or legal action.

Members of the Public

The Toronto Public Library encourages all members of the public to contribute to the vibrant, dynamic, and interactive spirit of TPL's online and social media channels and communities. Comments, posts, messages and creative content are welcome, providing they are in keeping with the Library's mission, vision, service values and policies. Contributions must comply with the Library's Terms of Use and not violate the Library's Rules of Conduct for user behavior.

User generated content, including user created stories, videos, graphic novels and artwork, is welcome on all online and social media channels affiliated with the Library unless inconsistent with the format of the particular channel, inconsistent with the Terms of Use or otherwise specifically indicated on the channel. The Library may solicit specific types of user content to showcase online, and the Library may determine, in its sole and unfettered discretion, which of such content will be showcased.

All content provided by users for inclusion on TPL's website or online and social media channels may be used and reproduced as the Library sees fit. By contributing content, users will agree through the Terms of Use that the Library has the right to use, reproduce and modify such content without making payments to the contributor. It is the responsibility of contributors to ensure that they have the right to contribute the material and they will bear full responsibility if they infringe the rights of anyone else in such material.

Authorized External Contributors

Authorized external contributors who are invited to participate in TPL's online and social media channels on behalf of the Library have an important role in maintaining a welcoming and supportive environment on the Library's online and social media channels, which can be done by adhering to the Library's Terms of Use and Library guidelines.

Library Content

All content contributed by, or on behalf of, the Library to its online and social media channels, remains the property of the Library. In order to reproduce this content, permission is required from the Library, except that the content may be reproduced in accordance with the Terms of Use.

Risk Management

Online and social media channels are dynamic and interactive with inherent opportunities and risks. Online messages are permanent, and have the potential to harm the image and brand of the Toronto Public Library. This policy, along with guidelines and training for staff, are intended to prevent incidents or problems that may occur when communicating online.

The Library will engage in best practices for managing online and social media channels, including:

The Library will develop and maintain risk management protocols and procedures in the event of an online and social media incident. When an incident or issue occurs, the Library will provide an appropriate response in a timely manner.

In the event that an issue or an incident occurs, TPL will investigate the matter and take appropriate action, which may include one or more of the following:

Specific Directives

The Library will post Terms of Use on online and social media channels.

The Library's online service environment is available at all times. Although the Library does not actively monitor these channels at all times, they will be monitored regularly. Responses to concerns or complaints about the online service environment may not be provided immediately, but will be issued in a timely and appropriate fashion.

The Library will post appropriate response times on online and social media channels.

The Library does not restrict access to online communication for children and youth. Parents and legal guardians are responsible for monitoring and/or limiting the use of TPL's online and social media channels by their children.

On service channels targeted to children, the Library restricts the sharing of personal information that identifies individuals.


The Director of Communications, Programming & Customer Engagement is responsible for the implementation of this policy.

Appendix 1: Definitions

Authorized external contributor - Individuals not employed by the Library who are engaged by the Library to contribute to TPL's programs, services or events, including but not limited to, writers-in-residence, authors, and entrepreneurs.

Online and Social Media - Online technologies and media that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives. Online and social media can take many different forms, including internet forums, websites, mobile sites, applications (apps), web logs (blogs), social blogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, video, rating and bookmarking. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, and crowd-sourcing, to name a few.

Personal Information - Recorded information about an identifiable individual. Personal information does not include the name, title contact information or designation of an individual in a business, professional or official capacity.

User Generated Content - Original content created by a user of Library online or social media channels, and uploaded to the Library's online and social media channels, including, but not limited to, stories, poems, videos, graphic novels and drawings.

Appendix 2: References


Federal Legislation - Copyright Act (R.S., 1985, c. C-42) as amended.

Provincial Legislation - Ontario Human Rights Code (R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19, s. 5 (1) as amended.

Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M. 56 as amended.

Related Policies

This policy overlaps with, and should therefore be considered in conjuntion with, the following TPL policies and guidelines: