First, let's figure out what in the heck RSS & news feeds are & why we might want to use them in our work as librarians. Here are two readings/viewings to help with this task:
- RSS is your friend - A short video by local tech consultant Lee LeFever that explains what RSS is & how it's used. (Thanks to Rob for passing on this link!)
- 7 Things you should know about...RSS - From Educause
In order to experience the fabulous world of RSS and news feeds, you will need a news reader. I'd recommend using either Google Reader or Bloglines. Both are web-based (meaning you don't have to download any software) and require you to "sign up" with their services. Reminder: anyone with a Gmail account will already have access to Google Reader. All you need to do is "activate" this service within your account.
I like the functionality and interface of Bloglines better than the Google product. You may want to experiment with both & see if you have a preference.
Your reader is hungry - you must "feed" it! Look for potential websites that have feeds - are there news sites or blogs that you visit somewhat regularly? You can tell if a site has a feed by looking for the RSS symbol (see icons at the top of this post) or text that indicates how to "subscribe." Often, these symbols/subscription instructions are located at the bottom of a page. RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) is just one type of feed; other popular types are Atom (used by Blogger) and XML. Bloglines and Google Reader will accept any of these feeds. Just click on Add (or Add subscription in Google) & paste in the URL of the feed to which you want to subscribe.
Bloglines and Google Reader let you search for potential feeds. In Bloglines, click on the "search" tab. In Google Reader, click on "browse" (next to "Add a subscription"). From here you can either browse sites by subject or search.
Hint, hint: I subscribed to all of our librarian 2.0 blogs* and stuck them in a folder in my Bloglines account. This way, every time I log into Bloglines, I can see who has added a new post to their blog. You may want to try this. (*All the blogs that are public, that is. If someone has made their blog "invitation only," it is inaccessible to feeds.)
Let's reflect. RSS allows users to pick and choose the content they want & have it automatically sent to them. How do you think this model of information delivery affects libraries?