November 29, 2004

"Delivering the News with Blogs: The Georgia State University Library Experience"

Doug Goans has placed a preprint of our forthcoming article on the Georgia State University Library's website. The preprint process was new to us, but I believe we have crossed and dotted our I's and T's to keep in line with Haworth's policy on author preprint rights. The final article should be out early next year in Internet Reference Services Quarterly.

This was a long, difficult article to write and rewrite. I spent so much time at Borders with my checked-out laptop, I'm surprised they didn't put me to work. The Computers in Libraries article was a breeze in comparison, once we got the article down to the specified word limit. We had some excellent people here in the library who read our drafts and offered constructive (brutal, but in a good way) criticism. Jane Schille, the IRSQ editor, was also very patient with our questions and revisions.

We had received a few warnings about the publisher, but the turnaround time from acceptance to publication--just under a year--is amazing. However, there has been once major change since we submitted the article: the number of blogs has more than tripled since March.

Enjoy, and please feel free to contact Doug or me if you have any questions or comments.

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November 17, 2004

Webfeed Roundup for November (part 2)

More government feeds. I'm still surprised that the CDC hasn't joined this list. I've contacted a tech person there (someone my mother works with) to see if he knows who I should contact at the CDC to ask about this.

  • The Wired article on government agencies and RSS mentioned NASA. They currently have 3 feeds: Breaking News, Image of the Day, and Science @ NASA. For the Image feed, you get a link to the picture but not the picture itself. The Breaking News feed is a must-read for astronomy and other science librarians.
  • The FDA has a feed for recalls, market withdrawls and safety alerts. Don't forget that the Consumer Product Safety Commission also has a feed for product recalls.
  • Another one of the "agency I've never heard of category" and also mentioned in the article, the National Agricultural Statistics Service proudly announced their new feed for news and announcements. I'm glad to see that government agencies are moving forward with this, the piecemeal aspect of this movement is not encouraging. Ideally, the feeds should be offered at the top level (here, the USDA), with the news from the 17 agencies funneled upward.

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November 16, 2004

SFX OpenURL Generator to Publicize Faculty Research

Shane Nackerud at University of Minnesota demonstrated at the Internet Librarian conference how faculty can use the SFX Link Resolver to create links to articles that can be posted to class websites (blogs, WebCT, etc.).

You can also do this with the SFX OpenURL Generator. I get a weekly report from Web of Science with citations to new articles written by GSU faculty. I copy a citation into the blog, enter the article's DOI into the OpenURL Generator, and copy the generated URL into the blog as the link for the article title. The result: a nice biweekly to monthly list of recently published articles by our university's science faculty, with links to the articles. If we only have the articles in print, I use a Voyager canned search generator to create a URL for the journal title.

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RSS Edges Into the Bureaucracy

A brief but interesting article on how recognized and obscure government agencies are using feeds to deliver information. Winer's comment that 2% of internet users are also RSS users is probably accurate. Definitely higher among librarians, but probably not by much (but I'd guess that awareness in the sense of "I've heard of it" would be closer to 50%).

"People will subscribe to many feeds, and in the course of receiving that information, they find that there's something interesting on (an agency's) site, and they'll go there."

Currently RSS is used by a relatively small number of people, but that may change as it is built into web browsers like Safari and Firefox. Some feel that one company in particular can go further in bringing RSS to the masses.

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Weblogs/RSS 101 & 201

Steven has posted the PPT of the preconference presentations he gave with Jenny Levine at the Internet Librarian conference. The PDF and HTML versions should be available shortly. The first part is a very basic introduction to blogs in libraries, with lots of screencaps showing examples (thanks for including ours). I wonder with an audience like this if any of this was new material. The second part is more about the technical and policy aspects of marketing and managing your blog, and there's some very useful information here. I haven't done much with the keyword customization feeds other than HubMed, but I may try some of the others they listed.

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November 04, 2004

NewsGator Online (Review)

Thanks to Amy, I've been trying out NewsGator Online, a free Web-based reader (the reader isn't new, but the "free" part is). A few observations:

  • Adding feeds: you can add feeds by entering the URL or using the keyword search to find feeds on a particular topic. "Library" brought up 124 feeds, I think it's only retrieving feeds that have been added by NewsGator users. You can also import an OPML file. I imported the feeds from my Bloglines account with no problems. It retained the folders but placed them in a new "Subscriptions" folder.
  • Organizing folder and subscriptions is a bit easier here than in Bloglines. I was able to move all of my folders out of the Subscriptions folder and delete that one in about 20 seconds.
  • There's a setting on the page for "only unread items." When checked, feeds that haven't been updated will not appear on your list. In Bloglines, this is part of the Options menu, so you may not even be aware that you can change the setting to hide the non-updated feeds. Otherwise, they just show up unbolded.
  • You can e-mail entries and save them to a Clippings folder. You cannot organize the clipped entries into separate folders, but it does generate an RSS feed that you can make public. Individual entries can also be rated (one to five stars).

Problems with NewsGator Online:

  • I had problems navigating from the entries in the reader to the full content. When I went from the host site back to the reader I had to refresh IE to get back to the feeds. There is also no way to customize the navigation the way you can do in Bloglines, so you cannot have links open up in new browsers or modify the posting length of the entries.
  • I can look at older posts, but there is currently no way to modify the view to make it more specific, like entries posted in the last week.
  • Instead of the unread/read distinction that Bloglines and NewzCrawler (among others) use, the feeds in NewsGator stay bold until I have actually deleted the entries. Even though I have looked at the last 15 entries that Cindy posted to LawLibTech, it still looks like I have 15 unread entries when I go back. The extra step of having to delete "read" entries is unnecessary, and hopefully something that the good people at NewsGator will correct.

I'm happy to see another Web-based reader, and I hope NewsGator continues to improve. I love Bloglines; it's an excellent tool, but it shouldn't be the only one out there.

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Webfeeds and E-Journal Locators

Peter Scott at the University of Saskatchewan Libraries announced on WEB4LIB that his library has incorporated feed information into their e-journal page. You can browse a list of titles with available feeds, and each journal that does have a webfeed has: [Publisher] has made the following additional information concerning this journal available as RSS Feed.

They have currently included the major publishers (NPG, BioMed Central, IOP, etc.) and are in the process of adding the IngentaSelect feeds. Someone on the listserv has already suggested a list arranged by publisher, which is already in development.

Color me extremely impressed. This is a great way to market webfeeds as a current awareness tool to faculty and students, and I have already asked if it is something we could incorporate into our e-journal locator here at GSU (and you can bet I'll be asking about it at UCSD when I start there next year).

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November 03, 2004

Webfeed Roundup for November (part 1)

  • The Government of Canada Newsroom has 35 feeds. Some of these are standard like national news and news by province. They also have audience-specific feeds like Aboriginal Peoples, Immigrants, NGO's, Seniors, Students, and Visitors to Canada. [from Gerry's presentation]
  • The Internet Archive has a "most recent additions" feed for their collections. They also offer similar feeds for some of the individual collections. [source: ResourceShelf]
  • Nature Publishing Group has expanded their collection of feeds, again. They now have "Advance online publication" feeds for their journals beyond the Nature titles, including EMBO Journal. [source: Library Stuff] In a related note, I e-mailed Science last month to find out if they were going to be offering feeds in the future. I got a very quick "we're working on it" reply.
  • The State Department now has 4 feeds (highlights, press releases, briefings and remarks from the Secretary of State), the most notable addition to the scattered collection of federal government feeds I've seen in a while. Right now there's a blurb about the feeds on the State Department homepage, under Highlights. There's also a link on the Press and Public Affairs page. I have discovered that if the feeds aren't linked, from the main page, then going to site's news or press release page is the next best place to try if you're browsing. [source: RSS in Government]
  • I'm not big MSNBC reader except for their entertainment columns, but they have a collection of 17 feeds--including one for Newsweek. [source: LawLibTech]
    • The Newsweek "top stories" feed also has its own page with an explanation of RSS, which makes me think they they will be adding to this list shortly.

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November 02, 2004


Just started browsing this month's Informed Librarian (it's worth the subscription), and found "The Magic of RFID" in the October 2004 issue of ACM Queue. I've seen this acronym coming up more and more in the librarian-techverse, so this should be worth reading.

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"Answer to a news junkie's prayers"

A nice addition to the growing collection of gentle introductions to the topics of webfeeds (or web feeds), from Bobbie Johnson at the Guardian:

First of all, web feeds can save you an awful lot of time. If, like any self-respecting news junkie with an internet connection, you've spent countless hours refreshing a web page waiting for latest news update, then this takes out the hard work. Now all you need to do is log on to your feed reader and it can present you the stories that have arrived since you last looked. No hanging around.

While the time-saving aspect is certainly the easiest selling point when discussing webfeeds and readers, it does create a new dilemma. Or maybe not a dilemma, perhaps more of a challenge.

Now that I have a more efficient way to track all of this information, I'm spending more time seeking and reading (and hopefully applying) the information. Part of this is due to the "referral" nature of the Web; if I'm reading a blog and they mention something posted on someone else's page that sparks my interest, I would naturally go to that site and see if it's something I should be keeping up with. But the having the reader lowers the "opt-in" bar and in most cases I'll add the feed because it's easy. As the tools improve and managing the feeds becomes even more efficient, I seek out more feeds.

Critical mass, anyone?

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