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Talking With Others About RSS

Last week’s Technology Tuesday post was about using RSS to track updates to your favorite blogs and websites. Many of you reading this are bona fide RSS junkies already, but you might still be wondering how to incorporate RSS as a service for patrons of your library or information center. Here are some strategies for talking with health professionals, faculty, students, and others about the benefits of RSS.

Make RSS an option for current awareness service.

Current Awareness, Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI), Table of Contents Alerts… these are all traditional library services that can efficiently be delivered through RSS. There are sure to be patrons who prefer to keep receiving photocopied tables of contents or emailed lists of articles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but try presenting RSS as a greener option (save some trees!) and a way to help cut back on email inbox clutter.

Medworm is a great site to show health professionals who are new to RSS. It indexes thousands of journal tables of contents, medical blogs, podcasts, and other feeds. It is fully searchable. Users can sign up for individual accounts, mark their favorite feeds, and use MedWorm as a self-contained feed reader.

FInd the early adopters.

Maybe it’s that first doc you saw walking around with a PDA several years ago, or the one who’s advocating for electronic health records. Maybe it’s a nursing student who writes a popular blog in her spare time. There are early adopters in almost every crowd. Odds are there’s someone at your organization who already uses RSS and would love to receive library updates as RSS feeds. Encourage that person spread the word about RSS to his or her colleagues. Sometimes it helps to hear about new technology from a peer. Make sure your RSS ambassador knows to refer people to the library for assistance with finding and subscribing to feeds.

Note: a lot of people use RSS without knowing it. If you get blank stares when you ask about RSS, try asking instead “do you subscribe to news feeds?” Or maybe “do you use Google Reader or Bloglines?”

Use the symbol.

RSS symbol
is becoming the universal symbol for RSS. Use it on fliers, on your website, and anywhere you want to promote your new service. Early adopters will recognize the symbol immediately. Use it often enough, and who knows? Maybe some patrons who have never heard of RSS will come to ask you what it means. It’s all about creating the teachable moment.

What are your ideas for promoting RSS as an information service?

Next week: Podcasts and podcasting

One Response to “Talking With Others About RSS”

  1. Hope Leman Says:

    That is a very good idea! You could make a cute bulletin board showing screenshots of the RSS symbol on the JAMA and NEJM sites and on the site of the local newspaper. How about T-Shirts emblazoned with the slogan, “RSS–feed me, feed me!”