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RSS: The Future of Content Delivery

by Greg Bodin, Technology Coordinator
NN/LM South Central Region
(reprinted by permission from Network News)

RSS (Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication, or RDF Site Summary) is a technology that allows dissemination of regularly changing web content. RSS allows content providers such as web page developers, online news publishers, bloggers, etc. to syndicate their content and notify subscribers when new content has been added. RSS allows web users to stay informed by being notified when new content is available, rather than having to visit the site to see if changes have occurred.

For example, a site dealing with library automation technology may post information on a new software application. Without RSS, a user would have to manually check for updates in order to find out that new content has been posted to this site. With RSS, a user subscribes to the RSS feed and is notified that new content concerning a software application has been added to the website. The user can then click on a hyperlink and be taken to the content.

A news aggregator, sometimes called a feed reader, is necessary to use RSS. Aggregators typically are available as software that can be downloaded and installed on a computer or as a remote service available from a website. The user then subscribes to desired RSS feeds using a special web address supplied by the content provider. Once subscription is complete, the news aggregator checks for new content and delivers headlines to the user. Preferences such as frequency of checking can typically be set by the user.

The number of sites offering RSS feeds expands daily and includes many major sites such as Yahoo ( and CNET ( Many library websites are now providing RSS feeds and these are a great way to keep up with current events, new technologies, news developments, etc. One interesting resource for health science librarians is HubMed ( HubMed allows users to create a PubMed search and save it as an RSS feed. When new articles have been added to PubMed, HubMed will send this information as an RSS feed and the user will be notified. Also, the NN/LM SCR Network News now offers an RSS feed:

Finding RSS feeds is easy. Many websites have an RSS logo or an XML logo XML logo on their website for RSS feeds. Some sites will have statements such as “feed,” “syndicate this site,” or “RSS feed.” Typically, a user will copy the URL for this link and use it for subscriptions.

More information on RSS

All About RSS

RSS Workshop. GILS.

RSS for Non-Techie Librarians. LLRX.

News Aggregator Software



Web-based News Aggregators



Sources for RSS Feeds (library-related feeds)



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