When Google officially announced the impending retirement of Google Reader, there was much discussion at work, with librarians debating alternatives and favorite readers. Personally, I never relied heavily on Google Reader. I’m a Netvibes gal (though more recently, Pulse‘s dashing look has stolen my heart). Nevertheless, we were all interested; not having a reader wasn’t even a consideration. At the very least, every public librarian needs a feed delivering the phases of the moon. This is important customer service information – you have to be ready for those full moon days! And of course, you need a daily dose of Unshelved, that goes without saying.
I thought most people would be similarly interested in the news, but apparently, the number of people who actually make use of Really Simple Syndication (aka Rich Site Summary or RSS) technology, the “brains” behind Google Reader, is comparatively small. We, as tech-savvy librarians (along with journalists and politicos) are huge adopters of technology that helps us to bring order to the Internet – it’s a librarian thing. However, it seems that the majority of people are happy to have their “news” curated by their Facebook “friends” or people they “follow” on Twitter. (I have FB and Twitter friends, too, but I’ll curate my own information, thank you.)
Besides the obvious use of having your favorite blogs delivered to a single convenient place, there are library and school specific RSS applications, too.
It couldn’t get any easier unless I called you up and told you about my programs!
Depending on your library’s ILS system, you can probably offer a feed for new items, too. My library has feeds for new videos, large print items,sound recordings, and even books (though I suspect that would be way too much information). My son’s school offers RSS feeds, too. I receive one that alerts me to changes in his sports schedule. I can even sync it to my Google Calendar (until Google takes that away, too).
Despite these great applications, Drew Olanoff, of the blog Tech Crunch writes “RSS as a technology is too nerdy, too behind-the-scenes and lacked general consumer appeal.” Sad, but probably true, and validation that I’m perhaps nerdier than I thought.
So, I’m curious. Did the ALSC Blog come to you today via RSS, or did you come here to get it? Have you chosen a replacement reader? Does your library offer helpful RSS feeds for your customers? Do your customers use it?
When Google Reader dies on July 1, will you care?