How libraries are using RSS

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a lousy blogger. Surely blogging is meant to be about frequent updating of content in a short, sharp conversational style? My posts are more like essays. Maybe I should stick to scholarly literature, although of course that actually has word limits …

Despite the length of my previous post on RSS, I still have something to say about the topic. As this post from the Official Google Reader Blog points out, there are feeds for almost everything, including weather, fashion, and social networking. The news you receive from Facebook about your friends’ activities uses RSS; if you click on the little RSS button (normally orange, this time blue), you can subscribe to friends’ updates in your feed reader.

That’s of course if you want to lose even more time …

Those of you who work at Swinburne Library with me might remember the presentation that Dana and I gave at the staff development day last year. We talked about using technology to reform library collections, and yes, I’m the one who couldn’t work out where the port was for my flash drive … embarrassing.

Although the newly-named Online Services and Strategies Unit hasn’t started a Facebook group for lovers of online research repositories yet (ok, ever), we do find that there are a number of ways we can integrate Web 2.0 functions into our work to make our lives easier. So I thought I’d give an insight into how we use RSS to help with Swinburne Research Bank.

Part of our workflow for creating content for the repository involves running regular searches on bibliographic databases such as Scopus, Web of Knowledge, EBSCOhost and Informit. Most of these services allow users to save a search string, for example ‘Swinburne AND University’, provided they have registered user accounts. Scopus allows this saved information to be converted to an RSS feed. I can then subscribe to that feed, and be alerted every time a publication is added to the database that contains both the words ‘Swinburne’ and ‘University’. I imagine that the liaison librarians do something similar within their own disciplines.

The University of South Australia Library thinks this is such a good idea that they have made these RSS feeds easily accessible to their users. They also provide a subscription link for library users to easily discover new additions to the collection. I think this is a great way to communicate with library users, both staff and students. Bond University‘s research repository, ePublications@bond, provides a similar service to alert staff and students when new papers are added to the collection. These are just some of the ways that Australian university librarians are beginning to use RSS to make their users’ (and sometimes their own) lives easier.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that feeds can get out of control. I don’t know how it happened, but I now have so many unread items (well over 1000) that Google Reader is starting to … well … devour them.

(‘2 PM @ San Francisco Zoo = Big Cats Feeding Time!’, from Minuk’s Flickr photos and reproduced under a Creative Commons License)

Poor bunny.

Update: Those following this discussion might be interested in this post from iLibrarian on creative uses for RSS feeds.

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2 Responses to How libraries are using RSS

  1. danamckay says:

    Hey, I couldn’t find the port for the USB key either — the computer setup contravened convention for where the case is in relation to the screen, and while it was pretty embarrassing (gee, those computing degrees really did me a world of good that day) I’m going to call that a usability problem with the computer, and not a failing on our part (that’s my story, anyway, and I am sticking to it).

  2. libodyssey says:

    Oh excellent. I wasn’t sure whether to call on being a librarian or being a blonde that day! Good to know the fault is always with the system.

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