Monday, July 25, 2011

Vital #2: RSS


In Vital #1, you examined a few library blogs, then created a personal blog specific to this project. Since the purpose of Virtual Vitals is to promote professional development, you will want to have access to timely information found not only in blogs, but also available on news sites and from other Internet sources. The easiest, most efficient way to do this is to set up an RSS feed.

RSS, which stands for "Really Simple Syndication," (alternately, "Rich Site Summary" or "RDF Site Summery") is a way to distribute new content alerts to users automatically, eliminating the need to constantly check individual websites. This requires the use of an RSS reader or news aggregator, an easy-to-use piece of free software.

Once again, the folks from Common Craft have provided a simple explanation:

How does this help me?

The greatest benefit of RSS is the gift of time - but there are other reasons to use this tool:
  • RSS Feeds can be grouped in folders, making it possible to organize and target your reading
  • you're not limited to text - it's possible to follow Flikr feeds as well
  • by setting up a list of followers, it is possible to share with others, thereby greatly expanding the scope of information accessed
  • RSS can be used to receive search alerts from databases
  • RSS is increasingly being used by libraries and other institutions to announce events, issue updates, generate reports, and deliver content. It is a powerful marketing tool, in both the public and the private sector.
Here is some additional insight about the value of RSS for librarians, from Elyssa Kroski, of San Jose State University's School of Library and Information Science.

Stuff to check out

Gale provides a tutorial on how to subscribe to their RSS feeds and Search Alerts.

EBSCO Support has an RSS for its top news stories.

Vital Task

First Choose an RSS Reader:
Google Reader | Bloglines |

Here are some tutorials, to help get you started:

Google Reader


Next, add some feeds.

Select 15-20 sites to follow, grouping them by genre. Mix in a few personal preferences (food, travel, decorating, etc.) as well as professional readings.

Here are some suggestions, but feel free to strike out on your own. Professional journals and newspapers frequently include links to blogs, and a quick search will turn up lists of recommended sites on a variety of topics.

Libraries & Librarians:
Library fun:
*don't forget to include Virtual Vitals and your own blog!


The Culinary Librarian blogged about her Google Reader obsession. Once you've set up your own RSS reader, do a reflective posting about the experience, giving specific reasons why (or why not) this tool will be valuable for you as a learner.


  1. Hi,
    I am really loving the RSS feeds. This is much better than the blogs, haha. I am still tryig to figure out how to make a comment on a blog, so I'm writing my reflection about RSS feeds here. For some reason, I am having issues with that.

    A main way I see using this is to show students about this resource. They can use it to create their own grop of RSS feeds where they can categorize and gather sites they find useful for personal and school needs.
    For myself I see me using it as opposed to looking at 20 different websites to see if there is anything new about the library world or books that I might want to have in the library.
    This is a great place to start but not to end. I will still need to make sure I go out and look for new updted sites to add to my RSS feeds and delete ones that lose their value.
    I thought you would get notification in your email when new feeds were published.

    Thanks for putting this together,

  2. Thanks for posting your reflection, Stacey! To post it on your blog, you'll want to create a new blog post, not comment on an old one. I like your idea of sharing this resource with students. One of the things I do to keep up with my feeds is to have a Google Reader widget on my iGoogle page that updates with new posts. It helps me keep up with things that spark my interest and reminds me to pop into Google Reader and see what else is new.