Tuesday, August 23, 2005

RSS Feeds: A Useful Library Tool?

Known as really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, RSS was created by Netscape in 1999 for use on the My Netscape portal. RSS is now used by the weblog community to share entries, full text, and even attached multimedia files. RSS is now used by many major news organizations to allow other websites to incorporate their "syndicated" headline or short-summary feeds. It is now common to find RSS feeds on many web sites.

A program known as a "feed reader" or "news aggregator" can check RSS-enabled webpages on behalf of a user and display any updated articles that it finds. Client-side readers and aggregators are typically constructed as standalone programs or extensions to existing programs like web browsers. Web-based feed readers and news aggregators require no software installation and make the RSS feeds available on any computer with web access. Some aggregators combine RSS feeds into new feeds, e.g. take all college football related items from several feeds and provide a new college football RSS feed.

While different versions of ther RSS standard are available, RSS 2.0's support for enclosures has made it the effective standard for podcasting, and is the format supported for that use by iTunes and other software designewd to play podcasts.

RSS feeds are typically linked to with an orange rectangle with the letters ''XML'' or ''RSS'' .

Libraries can make use of RSS feeds to help custoemrs stay current with important library news and information. Content delivered by RSS could inlcude genaral announcements, technology changes, new colleciton materials, and employment opportunities. Subject specialistys and departmental libraries can use RSS feeds to update their primary users on issues focused on their topic areas.

The website RSS4Lib is a great tool for uncovering innovative uses for RSS in libraries.


Steven M. Cohen RSS For Non-Techie Librarians. Created June 3, 2002.
Andrew King Introduction to RSS. Created March 27, 2000; Revised April 14. 2003.
Google's Directory of RSS feeds Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for this Eric. Here at PALINET we developed a tutorial (very basic) on Internet feeds such as RSS. For those interested, see: http://www.palinet.org/rss/toti/tsstutorial.htm

Thanks- John Iliff