Tuesday, August 21, 2012
RSS Use In Public Libraries
I have been investigating how Australian public libraries are using RSS, and I selected two examples Eastern Regional Libraries and Yarra Plenty Regional Library to explore how they are using RSS.
Many libraries now have their own blogs either on their library websites or on a blog hosting site with links to them. Many of these have a RRS feed that notifies subscribers of a new post and pushes it out to them. YPRL has a quite a few blogs but not all of them offer a RSS feed. ERL has 4 blogs, all that can use RSS technology.
Some libraries use RSS to alert subscribers to changes in library locations and opening times. ERL's Find a library page has a google map of all the branches of the libraries, has the phone number of each library and the opening hours. RSS allows subscribers to be alerted to any changes on this page which means that patrons would be quickly notified of any change in opening hours that may occur, especially relevant for public holidays or emergency closings.
Usually the RSS feed symbol is found on the address bar in your browser, ERL has placed symbols direction on their pages which makes it much more prominent – especially to people who are not so familiar with RSS. Many individual pages on the ERL website have RSS feeds. ERL has possible gone overboard with its use of RSS. RSS is particularly use for pages that regularly contain new information. ERL has RSS on pages such as on online resources and newspaper holdings which are quite static pages. However, for those users that particularly use online resources at the library being notified of a new resource can be invaluable. Interestingly, there is both a ERL newsletter and a YPRL newsletter but at the time of this blog entry they can only be subscribed to via email and not RSS.
Getting feedback from patrons is an important aspect the social media technologies offer. Eastern Regional Libraries has a feedback page that is part of the I love Libraries campaign in Victoria. Visitors to the website and library users are invited to share their memories and experiences of the library. These are posted to a page entitled 'Why I love my library” It has an RSS option. As subscribers are notified when changes are made to the page they will be able to read of new memories other have of the library and builds a feeling of connectedness to the library and those who use it especially if people have similar experiences.
A great way of keeping patrons informed about new acquisitions to the library is to create a RSS feed linked to the catalogue. This way subscribers are the first to find out the new books and can reserve them. Although ERL and YPRL don't Central West Libraries has RSS feeds of the new titles added to the catalogue. Users can subscribe to new titles, series issues and rating and reviews of books.
Another option for using RSS that none of these libraries are using (yet) is linking an RSS feed to a users library card. This then alerts the user to any changed on their card, overdues, fines, and reserves ready to pick up. An example of this is the University of Sydney's Myloans
Wusteman, J. (2004). RSS: the latest feed. Library Hi Tech, 22(4), 404-413.
Mu , Cuiying (2008). Using RSS feeds and social bookmarking tools to keep current . Library Hi Tech News 25(9) 2008, 10-11. DOI 10.1108/07419050810946196