Blogger Lisa Taylor

Google Reader is dead – Long live RSS

When Google officially announced the impending retirement of Google Reader, there was RSS feedmuch 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.

Celestia moon
By NikoLang (Own work (Screenshot)) [Public domain]
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.

When a parent is unhappy to hear that a particular library program is full, I let her know that an RSS feed can deliver news of library programs directly to her computer, tablet or smartphone.  Heck, there’s even an RSS feed specifically for children’s programs in my particular branch! (Feed this into your reader and see how I keep myself busy!

It couldn’t get any easier unless I called you up and told you about my programs!

(used with permission)

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?


  1. Ramarie

    Long live RSS, this post came to me by RSS! I quickly looked for a replacement for Google Reader when I found out it was going away…how else to keep up with all my fave blogs? I settled on feedly after reading quite a few reviews of recommended substitutes, but I am still trying to get oriented and comfortable with it, but I think I will, eventually.

  2. Marge Loch-Wouters

    I’m feeds all the way. With almost 300 blogs on librarianship and life, it’s the fast way to skim, read deeply or bookmark for sharing and teaching. I’ve been on Google Reader and Feedly as well (I love that Google Reader tells me my total unread posts and will miss it – keeps me on task). But librarians, like their libraries, are constantly evolving so expect this is but a blip on the screen of life – certainly not the blue screen of death.

  3. Monica

    I’m an RSS girl. I started on Bloglines and when that was announced it was going (and then came back, and then left, and then possibly came back again before leaving?), I went to Google Reader. Right now, I’m liking Feedly, but I will have to look into Pulse. I got my husband using RSS instead of opening 50 tabs for his comics and other daily websites. We’re both still using Google for the moment, partially because of the Bloglines thing and also laziness 🙂

  4. Jennifer

    I’m liking feedly at the moment as well

  5. Amanda

    I was shocked when I found out about the end of Google Reader. I have moved over to feedly for the time being as well! I like it so far, I just think are are more things to uncover about it.

  6. Jamie

    I love RSS feeds; it’s so much easier to go to one place for everything! I started off with a Google Reader when I created my iGoogle page in library school (guess it is a librarian thing 🙂 ), but now I’m a Bloglines girl.

  7. Vicki Kouchnerkavich

    RSS feed. I’ve migrated to Feedly this week and love it so far. I have the app on my personal iPad too, though I try to read my feeds during work hours. I don’t write a blog, but love getting all of your library world info via these feeds. I would like to know more about library users getting RSS feeds on new materials and programming-guess the library would have to have a blog to use a feature like that. Hmmm…

    1. Lisa

      Vicki, if you check the feed I included, you’ll see that my library’s programming feed is from Engaged Patrons, which, I believe, is free to public libraries. Our new materials feed is offered via Polaris, our ILS system. I don’t know that either of these are the best, but you can certainly check them out.

  8. Lisa

    I follow the ALSC blog on Google Reader, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when Reader goes away! I’m distraught. Feedly seems to require some kind of plug-in to be installed, and that’ll be a pain in the neck at work, given the locked-down state of our computers.

  9. Misti

    Definitely RSS — I have two Google Reader accounts (personal and professional), so I think I’m going to try Feedly with one and Pulse with the other to see which I like best.

  10. rockinlibrarian

    Yes, I read this post on Feedly, which is where I’ve come over from Google Reader also! I love it, I love being able to organize posts and save them for later (like a tag for book reviews, a tag for programming ideas, a tag for gift ideas– okay, so I don’t use it JUST for work!). The only downside to Feedly is that it doesn’t work on my Nook, and currently our library’s filter is blocking it for being a “download” site– I’ve sent an impassioned email to the tech folks to let it through for me.

    I’ve never given the idea of RSS much thought– it’s just a background thing, like you said. For me it’s just synonymous with “a way to keep up with blogs all in one place.” Twitter and Facebook are fine for catching news and jokes as they fly by, but you need something less flighty for articles you want to KEEP TRACK of.

  11. Abby Johnson

    Sigh. I was devastated about Google Reader going away – I use it not only to read blogs, but to save items, to search for links to use in my own blogging, etc. But I’m trying to move on. Right now I’m using Newsblur and I’m liking it pretty well, but I imagine I’ll try out a few more before I decide what I’m going to really switch over to.

    1. Lisa

      Try Pulse or Netvibes. You can set up different “pages” or “tabs” to keep your links visually separated.

  12. Jen

    Your blog, which linked to here, came to me via RSS. I will be sad to see Google Reader go- but I usually found my news outside of RSS anyway. I set up a lot of Google alerts for things I am interested in.

  13. Karen

    I will miss Google Reader. I like having everything in one place. I’m glad to see there are alternatives I can try.

  14. Celia

    I definitely skim ALSC’s blog via google reader RSS, and will be missing the handy integration with all my other google accounts!

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