RSS and Libraries

Image from Aha-Soft - http://www.aha-soft.com/

Image from Aha-Soft – http://www.aha-soft.com/

RSS can be seen to augment a library’s ability to meet the information needs of its users in a number of ways. Dissemination of information is arguably one of the primary functions of a library; RSS is one Web 2.0 technology that best supports this through its ability to push library content out to clients automatically. Farkas (2007, p.54) explains that library information such as news, events, upcoming programs, and additions to the collection are all examples of the type of content that can be broken up into discreet chunks and syndicated via RSS to patrons.

An example of this type of RSS in action can be found on The State Library of NSW’s website at http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/rss/index.html?HomeLink=Share

Here, an array of RSS feed options can connect users with new additions to the library’s vast collection and allow patrons to keep abreast of library news and upcoming events.

Dey and Sarkar (2009, p.343) predict that RSS has the potential to overcome many marketing challenges faced by libraries. Stephens (2006, p.38) explains that through the pairing of RSS with a blog, library content can be placed in search engines. This will allow it to be found in as many places as possible. Importantly, Stephens (2006, p.39) adds that this process can be seen to being infinitely faster than finding audience through existing library membership

A further example of RSS in action can be seen on The Powerhouse Museum’s website at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/ObjectOfTheWeek  here, the audience is given an in-depth look at objects within the collection. This shows how RSS can be of benefit to a library or information agency through its potential open up and market possibly hidden elements of a collection.

Farkas (2007,p.60) explains that a further way that libraries can utilise RSS to provide useful information to their patrons is through the syndication and re-mixing of existing feeds from a variety of sources.  An additional benefit of this is that through its choice of RSS feed subscriptions the library can be seen to maintain its traditional role as a curator of content.

References

Dey, N.C., & Sarkar, P. (2009). RSS feeds and its application in library services. 7th International CALIBER-2009. Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, February 25-27, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.inflibnet.ac.in/caliber2009/CaliberPDF/42.pdf

Farkas, M.G. (2007). Social software in libraries: Building collaboration, communication, and community online. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, Inc.

Stephens, M. (2006). RSS. Library Technology Reports, 42(4), 36-44. Retrieved from http://www.techsource.ala.org

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