Saturday, March 8, 2008

RSS Feeds and News Readers

I've arrived at item #8 of the 23 Things training -- RSS feeds and newsreaders. Although the directions instructed me to set up a Bloglines account, I've decided to stick with Google Reader. I appreciate its clean design and navigation macros.

I set up this account after I returned from Internet Librarian '07. Why? I attended Steven M. Cohen's session about RSS feeds and Google Reader. Steven contended that Google Reader has Bloglines beat hands down. At that time, Steven had about 960 feeds set up on his Google Reader account and claimed he spent only one hour a day going through them! He demonstrated how he emails postings to the lawyers in his firm to keep them updated. ("This article was posted by the New York Times five minutes ago. Thought you'd find it interesting.") I currently have 18 feeds set up on my Google Reader account.

On to the questions!

What do you like about RSS and newsreaders? Imagine picking up a newspaper that has been customized to cover all of your interests. There are so many RSS feeds available now that you can stay up to date on just about anything that interests you. The Google Reader newsreader allows me to quickly review the latest postings and distribute ones of interest.

How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life? I'm already using it! When the Scottsdale Tribune stopped delivering to my area, I missed having the paper to read while I ate breakfast. Now I take my notebook to the table and browse the latest news and postings while I munch and sip.

How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology? There are many ways! Here are some thoughts.

RSS feeds of catalog searches would allow library customers to be alerted when new items by their favorite authors or on subjects of interest are added to the collection. (I'd like an RSS feed from our new DVDs page to save the tedium of plowing through the titles I've already reserved!) We currently offer an email alert service but it isn't immediate and frankly it doesn't work very well.

We already offer an RSS feed for account information.

Several of our databases already offer RSS feeds on searches. In addition to doing more training on these wonderful resources, we need to publicize this service!

We could provide customizable RSS feeds for book reviews, library program information, and library news.

As a school librarian, I know the email addresses of the teachers I serve. I can send them (and my colleagues in the public and SUSD libraries) postings from Librarian's Internet Index, ResourceShelf, etc. when I know they will find them interesting and useful.

I've heard both Steven Cohen and Gary Price contend that RSS is not mainstream. People don't "get" it. When they click on those little orange buttons they encounter on web pages they get a page of gobbledygook. Libraries can provide a useful service by offering Web 2.0 training sessions that include RSS and newsreader topics. This is a way of positioning ourselves as goto technology leaders!

Time to post this and go check out the latest from the Annoyed Librarian and Fake Steve...

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