RSS feeds allow newsreaders, such as Google Reader, to aggregate entries from your favorite or most frequented blogs in a single, easy to access location. Most blogs and news sites have the option of easily subscribing to that site’s RSS feed, though many sites now make it easier than ever to subscribe to their feed through various social media services and apps.
I first started using a newsreader when the number of blogs that I frequented became too much for me to follow on a daily basis. Programs such as Outlook and Thunderbird, and services such as MSN and Yahoo, provide an option for users to subscribe to RSS feeds, but my favorite service remains Google Reader, a completely free application available through Google. I have probably mentioned this before, but I am a total Google devotee.
One of the things that I particularly enjoy about Google’s reader service is the ability to tag and categorize items and/or blogs. This makes it much easier for me to read what I am interested in at the moment. It makes it so easy to follow blogs that I often find myself subscribing to far too many, which may pose a problem when the blog writer posts with regular frequency. I recently had to review the number of sites to which I subscribe, unsubscribing from those that I could no longer keep up with, or which I prefer to read on a less regular basis. I currently have 19 subscriptions categorized, or “labeled” as, book blogs, author blogs, cooking, baking, libraries, Austenites, and misc. It is something of an addiction.
Newsreaders and Information Literacy
One of the main uses of RSS feeds and readers in information literacy is the opportunity for professional development that these services provide, especially when the user is interested in remaining abreast of trends and best practices in information literacy instruction.
They are also a great way to follow library and librarian blogs to gain insight into the way that others in the field are handling issues and challenges in their libraries, and interactions with patrons.
When I first considered library science as a career option, I turned to librarian blogs for insight into the real world of librarianship, the kind of information that you cannot find in textbooks. I started following bloggers such as Jessamyn West and Librarian in Black, as well as LIS News and others. This provided me with my first glimpse of the roles librarians play and prepared me for the options that would be available to me in the profession. My advice to students and friends who ask me what it means to be a librarian often involves telling them to follow a few library blogs to see if they are interested in the topics discussed. I think this works equally well for librarians interested in finding their own voice within the online library community and sharing their experience and desire to learn about information literacy.