OLJ Activity RSS

How can RSS  enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users

Some libraries are using RSS in databases, libguides/subject guides, and library catalogues to meet the information needs of their users.

RSS is about sharing and delivering up–to-date information to clients. RSS is a way of getting information and updates from a library web site. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology allows library and information services to meet the information needs of their users by delivering content to their patron’s desktop computer or other Internet device. By subscribing to RSS feeds, users can easily stay up-to-date with areas of the library’s services that are of interest. Apart from the general news and information services a number of libraries have RSS feeds available in databases, libguides/subject guides and library catalogues to meet the information needs of their users. As with other Web 2.0 technologies RSS allows for dissemination of information in ways that was not possible before. The advantage of RSS is that is that information is distributed to the user, there is no need to visit the website for updates so it is an efficient use of time and aids in keeping users informed with current information (Murley, 2009).

The Library of Congress offers several RSS feeds for use in an RSS reader or RSS-enabled Web browser. The feeds consist of headline, brief summary, and a link that leads back to the Library’s Web site for more information. Given the size and range of its services the Library uses several RSS feeds for users to connect to its services and collections. Using the feeds users can subscribe to many of its services and collections to keep up to date with content in various collections. Using RSS service users can just select the topic of interest and subscribe to the feeds which is great services for researchers and teachers as these patrons are be looking for highly focused information to meet their needs.

RSS is a great way of making available new content in library databases, subject guides and catalogues. A number of library database providers such as INFORMIT use RSS title feeds in their full-text and media databases to inform new content such as new journal titles, ebooks and reports that are added to specific databases. By checking the table of content feeds patrons can use with RSS and email alerts to keep up with latest content in their areas of interest. They can also drill down to specific titles of journals to get updates.

A number of libraries have created subject guides or research guides. These guides use RSS technology to make available updated content as shown by MIT Libraries. Patrons can select their subject guides and subscribe to the respective feeds to benefit from this service. A number of libraries meeting their user needs through libguides use RSS to get updated information in their subject guides so clients can be informed of new content.

The new generation library catalogues have inbuilt RSS feeds for users to keep track of new titles and updates from their library catalogues.


INFORMIT 2011, Setting up RSS feeds

Library of Congress (2011), RSS feeds and email subscriptions

MIT Libraries (2011), MIT Libraries – RSS

Murley, D. (2009). The Power of RSS Feeds. Law Library Journal, 101(1),127-135


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