Technology Boot Camp Week 6: RSS and Conclusion

Published by admin on Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Welcome to the final week of LFPL’s Technology Boot Camp. This week, we’re going to talk about RSS and show you how it makes following your favorite websites easy.
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What is RSS?

Depending on whom you ask, RSS stands for different things, but most commonly Really Simple Syndication. RSS makes it easy for people to receive regularly updated content (such as posts on blogs and news sites) without having to visit the same website over and over again. Here is a helpful video.

As the video explains, you need two things to take advantage of RSS technology. You need a home for reading all the new content. For this purpose, we will use Google Reader, which is already available to you as part of your Google account. And then we need to connect Google Reader to your favorite websites by subscribing to them.


Google Reader and LFPL’s RSS feeds

So let’s start by taking a look at the RSS feeds offered by the library.

1. Head to the library catalog.

2. Toward the left side of the screen, there’s a box titled “New Titles” with an orange button labeled RSS. Click on the RSS button.

3. On this new page, there are four different URLs in the middle of the page. Each one corresponds to a “new items” feed for a different material type. Select whichever feed interests you the most and copy the shortcut.

4. Go to Google Reader. Use your Google account to log in. Toward the top left, click on the large red Subscribe button. Paste in the URL that you copied from the page in the PAC.

5. You are now subscribed to that feed. The name of the feed appears on the left as a Subscription. The content of the feed appears on the right half of the screen. Google Reader will check the feed URL periodically and, when it finds new items, it will store them in Google Reader for you to peruse at your convenience.

Give it a try!

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to subscribe to an RSS feed, it’s time to explore the internet and find some more RSS feeds to subscribe to. Your task is to find two additional RSS feeds from different sources and subscribe to them. Find sites that you are interested in.

Perhaps you already have a group of sites that you visit regularly, perhaps daily. It is very likely that those sites are available for subscription with RSS. Just remember to look for the icon, which typically looks like this:

If you need some inspiration, there’s no shortage of places to find interesting feeds. Here are a few examples:

New York Times
Yahoo! Movies
Rolling Stone

Google Reader has a search and browse feature that might reveal additional sources of interest. On the left side, look for an option called “Browse for stuff.” This brings up a screen with both Browse and Search tabs, along with a Recommendations option based on what you already have in your subscriptions.

On your blog, tell us what feeds you subscribed to. What do you think of the experience of using Google Reader versus going to the individual sites?



You have now completed LFPL’s Technology Boot Camp! We hope that what you’ve learned will help you get the most out of the internet’s resources. To help us plan future programs of this nature, please take a moment to complete this very brief survey about your experience with Technology Boot Camp. Thanks for participating!