Posted by Linda W. Braun

Did you know that four people say they saw Olivia Newton John’s missing boyfriend in Mexico? That’s one of the interesting tidbits I just picked up by perusing the RSS feeds to which I subscribe. (It’s from the E! RSS feed – which is one of my favorites.)

As I read my feeds I realized I’ve never written about these on the blog. Some people might think that I have way too many feeds (54) in my feed reader. But, I’ve discovered, that actually having the information in which I’m interested in one place, and by having information collected for me automatically by a piece of software, I spend less time, rather than more, keeping up to date.

I’m going to backtrack for a minute. If you aren’t sure what RSS or a feedreader is you can find out by checking out a previous blog. In a nutshell, RSS feeds give you the chance to subscribe to information resources and have articles and updates from those resources delivered to you automatically.

I’ve been using RSS for about 2 years now and really do think it’s a great way to keep track of news and information of interest. In my RSS reader I’ve created different folders/categories for my feeds. I have a YALSA folder where this blog lives. Whenever there’s a new post on the blog my feed reader lets me know so I don’t have to keep going back to the blog page to see if someone’s posted a new blog or a comment.

Another folder in my RSS reader is called Tech. That’s the place where I collect information on technology topics. I have feeds coming from a variety of sources on everything from new products, to smartphones, to trends in technology, and more.

Then I have a folder for NY Times feeds. I love that many of the sections of the Times are available via RSS feed. This means that whenever there’s a new news story posted on a topic in which I’m interested, and that I’ve subscribed to, I see it listed in my feed reader. I subscribe to New York Times feeds for national and international news, movies, opinion columns, education, and, of course, technology.

The other folder I have in my feed reader is called Else. That’s for everything else that doesn’t fit easily into one of the other feed categories. This is where I have E! Online and A Painting A Day (an artist posts a painting every day and readers/visitors can purchase the painting on his site.)

So, why is all of this information easier for me to read and keep track of then if I didn’t collect it all in one place? Well, that’s really the answer. With my feed reader I am able to organize and select the information that is of most interest to me. I no longer have to go hunting from site to site to find out what’s happening in the various areas in which I have an interst. I don’t have to keep wondering if a new blog or news story was posted. I simply know it will show up in my reader.

Libraries are starting to integrate RSS into their services. Some libraries have feeds of upcoming events. Others provide library catalog feeds – updates of new books, overdues, reserves, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if the teens in your library could get information delivered to their desktop whenever an article on a topic of interest on was added to your databases or a book was added to your catalog?

The post I linked to above includes a link to a great resource from Will Richardson about using RSS feeds. If you haven’t tried RSS you should definitely check it out. It might seem time consuming to setup and figure out. But, in the long run I bet you’ll find you end up saving time by using RSS instead of losing time. Give it a try.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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