rss for libraries

I don’t really understand why libraries wouldn’t use RSS. Maybe if your library doesn’t do anything you want to keep people updated on?

A really basic use for RSS (and Twitter) is to have a constant stream of interesting things past your eyes. For a library, spotting the things in those streams that might be useful for passing on to their users is great. It shows they aren’t siloed off in their own little world of books, and acknowledges that the world of the internet is part of the library. Even something as simple as subscribing to feeds from your user groups’ websites to know about the events they’re having is a big deal. That’s how you become part of the community. You can’t rely on people coming into the library to tell you things. You have to be proactive and give the users a way to shape their own experiences with your institution.

An example of things librarians can do to make their catalogues more accessible with RSS is to make it easy to set up RSS feeds of OPAC searches or tags or lists. If as a user I come to the site looking for books with strong female protagonists and I find that the users have tagged a pile of great books with “badass heroines”, if I can subscribe to that tag cloud those books show up in my feedreader that’d be sweet.

RSS can push the library out into people’s consciousness without requiring them to come all the way to the site to see what’s new. People are lazy and if they can get the information they want given to them in the way they want it, that’s great.

5 Responses (Add Your Comment)

  1. One library I always thought did a good job with RSS is the U of A, where you really can set up a collection fee on particularly topics.

  2. Some interesting ideas, Justin. I think one important thing for a library to remember when implementing and creating feeds for their users to follow is to ensure some semblance of diversity and variety. The feeds would need to be accessible and relateable to a variety of patrons, with individual needs, ideas, and thought-processes. The establishment of such diverse feeds could be developed with the help and input of patrons.

  3. RSS feeds for new books on order seems to the most obvious use for libraries, particularly for public libraries with sub-feeds for New Movies, New Music, New Whatever Genre, etc.

    As it is, I occasionally pop in and manually parse the catalogue page by page with filters (keyword: “on order”, acquired in last 7 days, sorted by reverse date). Actually in Bibliocommons, I can bookmark this search which is pretty cool, but an RSS feed could make it oh so much simpler.

  4. @Courtney Yeah, diversity would be key. From what I gather though, people see RSS as like a tech/infonerd tool, not something regular people would care about. Having things set up for non-info/technerds would be important.


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