Online Learning Journal

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Evaluation (2a)

For this statement I have will discuss my experiences related to blog posts Information comes to you with RSS feeds, Social media and the art of conversations and ask your PLN!

Information comes to you with RSS feeds allowed me to explore how RSS feeds can be used to share library information. I was able to expand on my working knowledge of RSS and with some excellent assistance from Aaron Tay’s article I understood just how much data can be combined and shared via RSS. Aaron always uses a very analytical brain when examining methods and uses for technology whereas I use a more suck it and see method!

I can now see how well RSS feeds can be used to distribute information on particular topics of interest, but also how RSS feeds can fit particular user groups with varying levels of technology skills. When teaching seniors to use technology, we spent a lot of time discussing how to use Google, right down to the basics of how the internet works. We talk about how to find information, how to scan websites and use critical thinking to determine credible sources. Most important of all though, people are new to technology (and I mean very new, as in only using a computer for the first time at the age of 87) they need to see that it’s easy to ‘find’ information. And because the user has the choice of what to receive and accept (Aqil, Ahmad & Siddique, 2011, p. 398) without the need for registration, RSS feeds are perfect.

I’d like to see local libraries such as my own use RSS feeds more but they absolutely MUST provide training in the form of face to face or even a video or instruction leaflet on how to set up an RSS reader like Google Reader or how to receive RSS feeds via an email application. In my experience, once someone experiences finding information they actually want, their enthusiasm for using the internet more increases tenfold.

Joining conversations on social networking platforms and how they can benefit your own learning is a topic that I could talk about forever. One of the aspects of this subject I have enjoyed the most is the use of a Facebook group for the class instead of the traditional forum on myCSU. The group is a lot less formal, the conversations are much easier to follow and I did feel that people were more willing to share information and have a conversation. Perhaps it is because on the forums we are often required to submit forum posts for assessment which makes our responses much more considered and formal. Using the Facebook group and the Twitter hashtag (although I confess I didn’t use if often) drew people into the conversation very well. I’m sure that there are people who will delete their accounts at the end of this subject, I hope they won’t, there are so many conversations to be had and knowledge to share online!

Throughout this subject I have explored the use of social media creating conversations with patrons, and there have been many offerings of libraries who do this very well. When I posed my question to Twitter it truly opened a Pandora’s box of information on how libraries do and don’t use social media, specifically how many staff run the accounts, what changes staff are hoping to make and of course the generosity and enthusiasm of the responses were brilliant.

What I learnt in and posted about in Ask Your PLN! has really altered my thinking about social media. It isn’t just as simple as letting staff do their own thing with social media. Of course there must be policy and training in what is acceptable and ensuring that the online conversations are meeting an organisation’s overall strategy. But as Judy O’Connell puts it better than I ever will library’s also need to have the courage to let go and allow customers to shape our services through these connections, services (O’Connell, 2011) and conversations. What a great word, shape. Not change, alter, manipulate . . . shape. It goes so well with Web 2.0 and more importantly Web 3.0, the world is shaping how and how and where everywhere online.

So that’s what I’ve learnt through my three documented experiences plus all the other ones I didn’t write about but definitely experienced. And the ones that I experience everyday in my online. Diigo, Delicious, unsuccessful attempts at Second Life and Storify, blogging, many YouTube videos, Slideshare, podcasts . . . some have reignited my enthusiasm for particular social networks, otherwise have left me cold and I can’t see that I’d ever enjoy using them. My most important takeaway from this entire subject is that the patrons need to be allowed to shape libraries, museums, archives. It’s not just about staying relevant, it’s about finally have a real conversation. Libraries need to listen and reflect their patrons. Now.


Aqil, M., Ahmad, P., & Siddique, M. A. (2011). Web 2.0 and Libraries: Facts or Myths. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 31(5), 395–400.

O’Connell, J. (2011, November 3). Revolutionizing Libraries with Social Media. HeyJude – Learning in an Online World. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from


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Information comes to you with RSS feeds

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.

Two more good snippets of info on RSS for libraries: RSS and its use in Libraries and 10 Ways Libraries Can Use RSS.

Follow the Library using RSS | The New York Public Library. (2013). Retrieved February 1, 2013, from

Tay, A. (2010, March 22). Using RSS feeds to distribute library news – 6 ways. Musings About Librarianship. Retrieved from