Friday, July 6, 2007

Module 2: RSS & News Feeds

Step One

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!)
Step Two

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.

Step Three

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.)

Step Four

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?


alyssa said...

Here's another resource to peruse (during all of your ample free time this summer):

RSS4Lib is a blog that reports on how libraries are using RSS technology. Check it out!

Sarah Leadley said...

I just saw this tip in Google Reader:

Tips and tricks

If you find yourself repeatedly visiting a website to check for updates, or if you just stumble across a page you want to keep track of, you can easily subscribe to it in Google Reader using the subscribe bookmark.

To use the subscribe bookmark, simply drag the link below to your bookmarks bar. Then, when you're on a web page, you can click the bookmark to view it in Google Reader.

Once you see the feed preview, confirm your subscription by clicking the "Subscribe" button within Reader.


Does anyone know how to set up a webpage so that it can be subscribed to via an RSS service?

alyssa said...

Hey Sarah,

There's info on how to make an RSS feed at

Suzan said...

Here are a couple blogs that I subscribe to find out about calls for papers and presentation opportunities:

I like using RSS for this type of material so that I don't have to subscribe to every library listserv through email, or remember to visit numerous websites. Some generous soul has aggregated the information for me, and I can read through the CFPs very quickly to pick out relevant items. RSS doesn't fill up valuable server space in my email account.

I haven't yet thought about RSS for teaching (beyond having an RSS feed for the latest CLMC news), but RSS is great for professional development.

Suzan said...

I just fed my reader by subscribing to the Learning 2.0 blog and this RSS module. My blog reader's hunger was satiated, and it is taking a nap now...

Katy said...

The librarians at National Geographic compiled a list of recommended RSS feeds for their users. It's a great more about it in this article: Huffman, Karen. "Web 2.0: Beyond the Concept. Practical Ways to Implement RSS, Podcasts, and Wikis." in Education Libraries V29/1 p 12- 19.

Suzan said...

Wondering if anyone is still reading the CLMC Learning 2.0 Blog.

My question is this--has anyone here incorporated an RSS feed into a website? (i.e. employing RSS as a producer, rather than consumer side). Is it a pain to do maintenance of these pages as content changes? How does it work?