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Why I use a feed reader (and why you should, too!)

A stack of newspapers

Using a feed reader is a highly efficient and effective way of staying current on topics of interest, and easily sharing items with colleagues and friends.

RSS (Rich Site Summary, or Real Simple Syndication) is a mechanism by which a digital information source sends out links to newly added content. A feed reader lets me gather, organize, and edit these various streams of new content links in a single, user-friendly interface (I use Feedly).  When I subscribe to a feed, new content is automatically sent to my feed reader as soon as it is made available, 24/7.  Oh, and it’s free!

Feeds can be generated from different kinds of sources, including websites, blogs, online magazines and journals, news reporting sites, and library catalogs, just to name a few.  My feed reader lets me create folders for different topics, save items for future reading, share items by email or social networking tools, and mark items to be deleted. I can customize the look and feel of the site, choose how much or how little of the results I want to see displayed, and even how I want the display to look. Some feed readers also recommend other feeds of interest based on the contents in my folders. 

Websites that offer rss feeds have a feed icon, which will provide the link to their feed. Some feed readers (such as Feedly) allow you to simply paste a site’s url into the “add content” box. It’s that easy!

Current news:

Following news blogs and topical posts is the most popular way feed readers are used.  I follow feeds from the music and library worlds, Stanford, higher education, technology, and the recording industry, along with a few sites of personal interest (cooking, movies, lgbt news). I make a habit of checking my feed list each morning, just as I do my email.  I can scan hundreds of items at a glance and then decide what to read, what to save or share, and what to delete.  It takes mere moments to get up to speed on all the news that may be relevant to my workday, my projects, my Facebook followers, and my music and library colleagues.

Current tables of contents:

Online journals provide rss feeds that will display the table of contents of new issues as they are released. This is a great way to keep current with our journals; in particular, it is a great way to keep current with the increasing number of titles that we receive only in digital form. The music e-journals page lists these titles along with links to their individual rss feeds (copy and paste the ones you want to follow into your Feedly)

SearchWorks new arrivals:

I can construct and execute a search in SearchWorks (to see all items related to Wagner's Ring, for example, or recordings of Chopin Ballades) and then copy and paste the url into Feedly.  Each time an item is added to the catalog that matches my search, a link to the record for that item will appear in my feed.  I can then note the call number, or place a request if it is "on order" or "in process". Any one of our librarians can help you construct a search to capture your interests.

I hope you’ll consider using a feed reader to expand your current awareness, in an efficient and effective (and enjoyable!) way.