RSS and the academic library — (still the freakin’ coolest)

Long-time readers will know all about my long-time admiration for UBC’s librarians. Yesterday was a notable new chapter in the saga, as 35 of our university’s finest information specialists (with more on a waiting list) packed into a lab for a three hour workshop on RSS and academic libraries.

Much of the time was spent on the basics, though about half the attendees had at least set up a newsreader already. But the preparation for the more advanced and context-specific elements unearthed some useful and powerful resources that I thought I would pass on…

Electronic Journals and RSS – Librarians at my old school in Saskatchewan maintain a couple of valuable lists — electronic journals with an RSS feed and publishers and sources for academic RSS. The number of Table of Content updates through this means is still too small, but blogging librarians such as Steven Cohen are keeping up the pressure for more… I was pleasantly surprised to learn that ProQuest has begun to offer this service.

There are issues. One is that RSS feeds tend not to render to the local institutional source, but to the main central database. So in some cases clicking on an RSS link will take you out of an authenticated local environment and send you to a simple TOC summary on an outside site. Nonetheless, these services provide a wealth of material for academically rigorous dataflow for today’s ripping mixing feeding educator.

RefWorks – If your institution has a license with RefWorks (ours does) you should note the efforts this academic citation service is doing to integrate RSS. You can track any source with an RSS feed (not just academic journals) and then export citation information from any item using any of the major standard citation formats. This is one way to make citing online sources a little easier. A number of UBC’s librarians are already using this feature.

RSS4Lib – is a promising weblog that tracks innovative ways libraries use RSS. Among the goodies I found here was BlogBridge: Library, a nifty tool that libraries (or anyone else) “can use to organize a multitude of RSS feeds into a coherent and nicely-presented interface.” (Thanks to Steve Matthews for turning me on to this blog.)

I could add more, but instead will defer to Jay Bhatt’s outstanding HigherEd BlogCon presentation Using RSS to increase user awareness of e-resources in academic libraries which is loaded with links and ideas. One of many library-related presentations from that conference (most of which are devoid of audio or screencasts, strangely enough).

There are already librarians at UBC using this technology quite well (check out Sally Taylor’s page on Fisheries that subtly employs RSS feeds in a few places), and I’m hoping yesterday’s energetic session is the harbinger for some hardcore free-flowing info action in the near future.

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5 thoughts on “RSS and the academic library — (still the freakin’ coolest)

  1. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make your presentation yesterday morning (I heard it was excellent!), however, I will be sure to go over the resources you posted on the wiki. They look intriguing…

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