Monday, 18 July 2011

Current Awareness and RSS Feeds

We have recently been investigating the different ways in which people offer Current Awareness Bulletins. We started off by emailing out the bulletins to a list of contacts in each speciality. However, we would like to offer people a range of options for reading the current awareness, in order for it to be as widely available as possible. Whilst some people prefer receiving information directly to their inbox, other people might prefer to subscribe to it via an RSS feed and access it using a feed reader such as Google reader.

I emailed two mailing lists to see what other people have been doing with current awareness, both in and outside the health sector.

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of enthusiastic responses. There seems to be people across different sectors interested in RSS feeds and current awareness. It was mentioned by several that this was something that they were looking at setting up. Netvibes was the most popular choice as well as using blogs and Google Feedburner and Yahoo pipes to create code. You can create code for users to subscribe to the blog via email as well as RSS. A couple of people commented that RSS Readers do not seem to be that popular with their library users. Therefore the subscribing by email option could offer an interesting alternative. You can use Google Feedburner to create code so that you can embed your blog on your library website. It seems to be a good tool if you do not know how to manually create code and it is also free. Some software that creates code does charge. Other issues were people on locked down computers being unable to download any free code creating software.
Zinepal was also mentioned but the free features are limited.



  • Brian raised the issue that people can subscribe via email as an alternative (or possible additional option) to RSS. You can read a blog post he wrote on this matter here.
  • Netvibes is very popular. Here is an example from the University Hospital of North Staffordshire – I like the way the layout is easy to navigate. 
  • Shrewsbury and Telford Health Libraries have done an informative wiki about using Google Feedburner, Yahoo pipes etc 
  • Here is an example of how Keele University Libraries have displayed latest evidence
  • Quite a few people emailed me to tell me about the Current Awareness service offered by CASH – who offer an RSS option for each of their bulletins.
  • A law firm library have purchased a specific product which creates RSS feeds and live news streams for them:


The most popular options within health libraries seem to be using Netvibes or setting up a current awareness blog. Are you offering your current awareness via RSS or otherwise? Please do get in touch or comment on this post if you have more to share on current awareness and RSS!

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