RSS feeds are an incredibly easy way of receiving up to date information on specific topics or areas of interest without having to subscribe to a newsletter, forum or discussion list.
As demonstrated in the examples in module 2, libraries, small and large are using RSS feeds to share their information with users of their service. Two more examples are the New York Public Library (NYPL) and the Bureau of Meterology’s (BOM) RSS feeds (the latter could be particularly useful given the wildly different weather patterns around Australia at the moment!).
The NYPL has a great page “Follow the Library using RSS” which has feeds to news, blogs, adult, children and teen events and exhibitions. The page also explains what RSS is, why you might want to use it, and most importantly HOW to receive an RSS feed (“Follow the Library using RSS | The New York Public Library,” 2013).
BOM has RSS feeds for weather and warnings for all states and territories in Australia, for both land and marine and both combined. There is also an RSS feed for Climate Updates and Outlooks.
RSS feeds allow users to dig deep into the information on an organisation’s website and receive updates on what is of interest to them. The information organisation is meeting the specific needs of a specific group. Libraries use RSS feeds to provide updates and discussion for lovers of romance fiction, family history, children’s books, book groups, the list goes on.
Aaron Tay of Musings about Librarianship has written a number of posts about RSS feeds. Of particular interest is his article on Using RSS feeds to distribute library news – 6 ways. When you read through the article and look at Aaron’s examples you may have an aha! moment as I did. There is a great deal of data and information that can be shared via RSS – calendars, policy, service outages, Twitter Q&A’s, news events (Tay, 2010). RSS can do SO MUCH!
The one thing I noticed when looking for RSS feeds on websites is that may do not provide any information on what RSS is and how to use is. If you want people to use it, you have to explain it! Not everyone uses social media and social networking all day! Perhaps this is where information organisations could make their own videos posted on their website, Vimeo or YouTube on how to set up a RSS reader and subscribe to feeds.
Follow the Library using RSS | The New York Public Library. (2013). Nypl.org. Retrieved February 1, 2013, from http://www.nypl.org/help/rss-feeds
Tay, A. (2010, March 22). Using RSS feeds to distribute library news – 6 ways. Musings About Librarianship. Retrieved from http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/using-rss-feeds-to-distribute-library.html