Tuesday, September 11, 2007

LibGuides: Where Are the RSS Feeds?

Boston College Libraries recently revealed their new subject guide service using the LibGuides application. Several librarians have already commented on LibGuides, and in general the service has been well received.

LibGuides is a hosted service which enables libraries to create locally branded subject guides. LibGuides is a service SpringShare, founded by Slaven Zivkovic, who once worked at the Orradre Library Santa Clara University and co-found Docutek Information Systems. According to the FAQ, the cost of annual license for LibGuides depends on the size of the institution and the number of libraries involved with fees ranging from $899 to $2,499.

Each subject guide includes a profile of the individual responsible for managing the guide including a photo, and contact information. There is also an IM link! These guides can incorporate all kinds of content, pull in RSS feeds, embed videos, podcasts, custom search engines, etc. Customers can search or browse for a guide by subject or alphabetically. There is also a Facebook application.

While it appears that one can pull in RSS feeds when building a guide, it does not appear that a library can syndicate a guide. While Slaven has come up with an interesting service in LibGuides, such syndication is essential as libraries move towards a more service oriented approach to our systems. Syndication would serve several purposes:
  • Libraries would allow customers to subscribe to any guide and get a feed of any changes made to it. There is already an email update feature (although limited to newly published guides with specific tags or by specific librarian) why not RSS?
  • Libraries could use RSS feeds to export the content of a single guide into other systems, such as a course management system. A librarian could make changes within a specific LibGuide and have it appear in the library resources section of a course. Several different guides could be brought into a single course, or, a single guide could be placed into every course shell.
  • Librarians spend a great of time managing content. We also have a tendency to embed our content into our applications. This continuously creates migration challenges. The reality is that LibGuides has a limited shelf life. As new technologies and ideas come around we will want to move the content out of the service. RSS would be a relatively painless method of exporting the content.
  • Since there is an option of printing the entire guide, it would seem to be relatively trivial to create an RSS version.

Lastly, while everyone has to make a living, LibGuides would make a terrific open /community source project. Sphere: Related Content


Slaven Zivkovic said...

The RSS feeds are coming! We are currently working with our user community to develop the specifications for the RSS syndication of LibGuides content. We will also release the LibGuides API soon, for additional flexibility in exporting LibGuides data into other applications.

Eric Schnell said...


Wow, a developer willing to share their API! What a concept!