RSS… How can it be used in a library?

December 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm (Communication, Libraries, Online Communication, RSS Feeds, Social Media) (, , , , , , )

RSS icon The point of this post is to briefly discuss how RSS feeds can be used effectively to deliver relevant information to a library community and enhance information services for users.

The reason behind RSS is to allow for the streaming of information from the source (in this case the library) to the user’s online feed aggregator of choice. This type of information delivery gives the user an hub of multiple online resources which interests them. The end result is information which interests the user arrives through a singular online interface of their choice.

Firstly, the type of information that form the basis – or reason – for an RSS feed’s creation need to be established. Ask yourself and your colleagues questions such as; ‘What do we want to acheive through RSS?’, ‘Do we want to advertise new books, CDs, DVDs, etc?’, ‘Do we want to promote library events and activities?’, ‘Are we seeking to achieve more transparency towards library policies and procedures?’. The answers should give you a good outline and idea as to what content the library wants to provide.

Secondly, there are a number of reasons which could be used to form the content direction for an RSS feed. However whatever the reason is, it should always reflect the information requirements and interests of the library user.  Ask additional questions like; ‘Would the library users be interested in receiving updates about XXX topic?’ or ‘Could this type of content be shared under another RSS feed such as ‘General Updates’?’ and most importantly; ‘What type of information would the user want to receive from the library?’.

In planning this type of service, you may want to ‘start small’ by providing just one or two RSS feeds at first. ‘General Updates’, ‘News and Events’ and ‘What’s new’ are good suggestions for this as they provide user relevant content – or rather information users would be interested in taking the time to read. This point is perhaps one of the most important to keep in mind when providing information via a RSS feed service. If the users are not interested in receiving the type of content you are providing, they simply will not use your RSS feed.

Examples of effective RSS feeds:

The Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/syndication

Library of Congress: RSS Feeds and E-mail Subscriptions

http://www.loc.gov/rss/

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