RSS Feeds in Libraries- Module 2

RSS Feeds in LibrariesRSS

“RSS gets you found in places you normally wouldn’t be found”

-Jenny Levine, Conversation, Community, Connection and Collaboration: Practical New Technologies for User-Centred Services Roadshow, 2006

RSS stands for “Rich Site Summary” or more commonly “Really Rich Syndication”.

An RSS feed allows users to gather content as it is created and updated (Bansode, Dahibhate and Ingale, 2009). Instead of having to visit sites daily to see updates, interested users can subscribe to a web feed, allowing them to quickly access data as it is created, in one place. These syndicated pages are called a web feed. A web feed is a computer-readable file that summarises the information published on a web site.

As both libraries and RSS feeds are about sharing and delivering information it is no big surprise that many libraries are making good use of RSS feeds to disseminate information in a timely manner and with their users’ needs in mind.

How can RSS be used in a library?

  1. New Additions to the catalogue
  2. User notification- Overdues, reserves
  3. Upcoming events and new programs
  4. Library opening hours and holiday closures
  5. Library newsletters
  6.  Press releases and announcements
  7. Job vacancies
  8. Sharing local, state and national news websites
  9. Chatting with a librarian
  10. Interesting sites of interest to different interest groups (The Moxie Librarian, 2008)

For example Yarra Plenty Library ( has a news feed in the top left hand corner showing available services, new books and events.Yarra plenty Library

Figure 1Yarra Plenty Library Home page

Before this unit I had not used an RSS feed myself but I have been experimenting.  I have been trying RSS reader apps in Windows 8 and will continue to explore when this unit is finished.

When incorporating RSS feeds into library services, library managers need to ensure they select their feeds to meet the needs of the users and not clog their site with large amounts of information.

Tips for implementing RSS

Stephens (2006) recommends the following tips when contemplating RSS implementation.

  1. Library staff must decide if they want to generate feeds internally or through another institutions RSS feeds.
  2. Look for places where RSS feeds can save library staff time.
  3. Does the library want to build an RSS –feed portal or a list of starter feeds for patrons
  4. Train the staff and library users.


10 Ways Libraries Can Use RSS. (2008, February 27). The Moxie Librarian. Retrieved from

Bansode, S., Dahibhate, N. B., & Ingale, K. (2009). RSS Applications in Libraries and Information Centres. Library Philosophy and Practice 2009. Retrieved from

Koltzenburg, T. (2006). On the Road with Jenny and Michael. ALATechsource. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2006). RSS. Library Technology Reports, 42(4), 36-44.