RSS feeds – What are they good for?

I love my RSS feeds. I get all my blog updates this way, saves me from having to go and visit each blog that I peruse, to see if there are any updates. I have it set up through my Thunderbird email client, so as I check my email, I can check for any new feeds. Its quick and easy and helps me keep current.

What is RSS? RSS stands for either Rich Site Summary, or Real Simple Syndication. What that means is that you can get a notification of an update to a blog you are interested in, without having to visit the blog. You get a summary in your feed reader (in my case, I have set up my Thunderbird email client, but there are specific Feed Reader programs), of any updates that have occured in those blogs. You control what is feed to you through the feed and can delete them at any time. No need to subscribe or unsubscribe.

My workmates, who are only discovering all this through me, have been wondering what application RSS feeds can have to public library service. They can see the benefit for professional development, but what else? Especially as a recent survey showed that only 2% of people on the Internet were using them.

Recently I have read of 2 means in which RSS feeds could be of benefit to our service – maybe not today, but in the not too distant future.

Ann Arbor District Library is using RSS feeds linked into their homepage, to bring the latest news and events to their patrons. They present this information in blogs as part of the website, but summaries are transferred, via RSS feeds to their homepage. That way, the information only has to be entered once into the blog and is then updated automatically to the homepage.

The other was a brief journal article which talked about some LMS vendors starting to use RSS feeds for patron notification. Holds notification was one feature, which is nice but we have other means of doing this. The other feature, which really grabbed our attention, was for pre-overdue notices – sending patrons a reminder via RSS feed that their library items are DUE for return within a specified time period. If only some of our users were subscribed into this type of service, the difference it could make to loans, stock turnover and administration could be phenomenal.

So although I am only one at my library now who loves RSS feeds , as things head this way, I can see that all our library staff could have a similar affinity for them. And who knows what other applications RSS may apply to in future.

1 comment

    • genevieve on October 25, 2005 at 11:46 pm

    You’re going to be one of those invaluable people – a peer educator. Go you good thing, go.
    Came here via Morgan’s blog. Keep up the good work.
    BTW it’s probably a good sign if you have enough tech content for 12 months of newsletters ( I’m reading down the page here.) I had a neighbour who was a business writer once, and that was the way she tackled workplace newsletters – as much done in advance as possible.

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