Last week, Duke Libraries launched a brand new interface to its catalog. There’s a lot that you can do with the new catalog that you couldn’t do before, so get ready for many new tips and tricks here on Library Hacks.

This post will focus on using RSS (really simple syndication). RSS “feeds” free you from having to constantly check web sites to see if anything new and interesting has been added. Instead, the information is delivered to you as soon as it is available. If you’re not familiar with RSS or would like a refresher, take a few minutes to watch this “RSS in Plain English” video by CommonCraft:

Of course, the library catalog is neither news nor a blog. So, you might ask, what can you do with RSS in the library catalog? You can…

Get alerted when items of interest to you are added to the catalog

Let’s look at some examples of items. I’ll use the first to demonstrate.
(Bookmarked with the “Save Search” feature):

Whether you are just browsing by clicking around or you have narrowed a set of results with a combination of search terms and selections from the left-hand “Refine Your Search” menu, you’ll see an RSS icon ( ) next to the number of results found.

Right-Click (or Option-Click) on the RSS icon to copy the feed URL. Click Copy Shortcut (or its equivalent–see below).

We have to add that feed URL to an RSS reader (also called an aggregator). I use Google Reader, so I’ll demonstrate with that. Feel free to substitute your aggregator of choice, or use your browser’s built-in feed subscription feature.

In Google Reader, click “Add subscription,” paste in the feed URL you copied from the catalog, and click “Add”.

Now that you have subscribed, any time an item is added to the catalog that matches what you were looking for (in this case, feature film DVDs at Lilly Library) the item will appear in your reader, just like new blog posts and news articles, with a link that will take you to the item in the catalog interface.

This is a great way to find out quickly and effortlessly about new additions to the catalog that match your interests.

Other uses of RSS feeds from the Catalog

Beyond delivering notices to your personal reader, you can use a feed from the catalog to generate a linked list of new additions that match a particular interest, and embed that in another web site. You could add a list to a blog, your Facebook profile, a course or departmental web site, or someplace else. The steps to do this will differ depending on which site, widget, or application you’re using, but use the same technique as above to get the feed URL.

RSS at Duke University Libraries

There are many other RSS feeds from Duke Libraries beyond the catalog. Subscribe to get library news, see job postings, or to read posts from Library Hacks or one of our several other blogs:
http://library.duke.edu/rss/index.html

Related resources

 

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