RSS – A new way of keeping informed

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Current Awareness, Libraries, RSS, Social Networking, Training

Before starting this university subject I had come across RSS feeds, but had not spent much time investigating them. I had subscribed to one or two RSS feeds sin the past, however these were more out of general interest, and I did not continue looking at them. I had not considered using RSS feeds for either my own personal information needs, or using them within my library for the requirements of my clients.

RSS feeds can be used by libraries to keep their clients up to date with the resources that have been added to the library collection or information resources online or elsewhere. Many libraries use RSS technology for this purpose, including the Australian federal Parliamentary Library (http://www.aph.gov.au/library/rssinfo.htm) and the University of Melbourne(http://www.library.unimelb.edu.au/services/help_yourself/feeds). These feeds are updated regularly, meaning that clients do not have to remember to check the library catalogue for new items. This type of RSS feed is a brilliant marketing tool, reminding clients of the ever increasing library collection, and helping them to find new resources of interest to them.

The Parliamentary Library also uses an RSS feed to create a digest of newly proposed bills. It describes the bill and its purpose, background, any financial implications and other issues. Other RSS feeds update monthly statistics such as demographics, wages, and employment, amongst others.

An interesting use for RSS is to instruct clients in various library related technologies and resources. The University of Melbourne uses RSS to instruct clients about using library software and tools. It includes tips for the catalogue, journal databases, searching online, as well as information about different technologies such as ebook readers etc. This allows them to reach a significantly wider portion of their clients, without the burden that would have been placed on staff workloads.

After investigating library RSS feeds and thinking about their potential, I am considering how they could best be used in my library. My hope is that we will soon be implementing this technology to help my clients keep up to date as easily as possible.

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