Using RSS to Promote Scholarly Publications – Ken Varnum, Tufts University

RSS stands for real simple syndication. It’s an xml-based data format for syndicating content. Way to send a title, URL and abstract to aggregators, websites, etc.

How do you let the world know that your feed is updated? By pinging aggregators or by including recent headlines on your Website.

The Ginn Library has a library announcements RSS feed and a related news feed.

RSS can be generated automatically from blogs, wikis, etc. RSS is often available on news sites. You can also create RSS feeds by hand. It’s really easy to do.

At the Fletcher School, people didn’t know what other scholars there were working on. They first built a site for students to input brief metadata about their masters theses. Ken created a perl scrit that generates an RSS file whenever a new thesis is published. They then use Feed2JS to publish the titles and abstracts on the front page.

They then did a needs assessment to figure out how to collect and publicize faculty publications. They built a database and did data entry on the back-end using Perl. It has a simple way for faculty to put citation information about publications and it has a simple search interface. You can subscribe to RSS feeds of searches and newly added publications. They are working on providing direct access to the publications through OpenURL.

What a great example of using RSS to make people more aware of what others are doing at their institution. Hot!

Feeds for the Masses: Broadcasting Library Blog Posts into Online Classrooms via Feed2JS – Barret Havens, University of Southern Maine

Feed2JS allows you to display content from an RSS feed on any Web page or course management system.

They used Feed2JS to put library news content into Blackboard and actually trained faculty on how to use it themselves to syndicate content into Blackboard.

Blogs are very simple to set-up and they automatically generate an RSS feed. We can also pull content via RSS from news sites and database searches (alerts).

Barret is showing how to find an RSS feed and generate the JavaScript for Feed2JS. It really is ridiculously easy. You just put the RSS feed URL into Feed2JS and it will generate the JavaScript code for you to paste onto a Web page or into courseware. Now he is showing us how to post RSS content into WebCT and Blackboard.

One thing that I think is really great about Feed2JS is that it can really allow people who don’t have regular access to a server to update content on the Website using something like a blog or other tool that generates an RSS feed. If you can get your Webmaster to just throw that bit of JavaScript on a Webpage, that is the last time you will need access to the library Website. You can then update the page using a blog (or other tool).

Update: From Barret If anyone out there would like to learn how to embed RSS feeds into online courses or any Web page, please visit my online presentation:

Click on “Printer Friendly View & Complete Notes” to see an annotated version complete with Flash demos.