[Web4lib] RSS

K.G. Schneider kgs at bluehighways.com
Tue Aug 9 12:36:15 EDT 2005

> A number of people have already come up with examples -- library news,
> current awareness, new titles, etc.  It really is a step forward not to
> require your users to have to go your site, to your system, or whatever,
> to pry this information out of you.  (Though naturally there are
> advantages and disadvantages to every form of dissemination.)

RSS is that expensive marketing firm I could never afford. Well, I'd still
like an expensive marketing firm, but for the price of the feed, I'm not

Since deploying our RSS feed over a year ago, we have had the experience
that we are picking up new users who did not find us through one-on-one
interaction through librarians. I believe they are finding us through
feed-finding tools. It's hard to get an exact count of who's using you via
RSS, but some of the indicators include picking up hundreds of new Bloglines
subscribers every month, increased use of the RSS feed, markedly increased
use of the site overall, and in our annual survey, learning that 11% of our
users had found us in the previous year. I don't know how that compares with
the previous year, but anecdotally, from user feedback and so forth, I just
have the sense we are acquiring new, nonlibrarian users, and the use
statistics would indicate that as well. 

RSS feeds are also much, much easier to maintain than email lists. You lose
some of the formatting opportunities you get with an email list, but you
gain other advantages, such as spam-free delivery and as Leo is saying
greatly enhanced findability. All Hail RSS! 

I am giving a short talk this Friday to academic librarians where I explain
what a blog is (oh come on: we all know a blog is an ugly neologism!) so
this thread has been fabulous (I plan to blog it!). Couldn't have done
better if I asked for it myself. I am supposed to focus on "what is a blog,"
but I'm going to spend some time on "what is a feed," since a blog without a
feed is like a day without sunshine, or something. Like a dog without a

Karen G. Schneider
kgs at bluehighways.com

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