UCB Libraries


How do I... use RSS?


  • RSS: The Basics
  • For research
  • To Communicate
  • For Fun
  • Overload?


+ What is RSS?


  • RSS means "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary." An RSS feed is simply a list of new information from a website. Using RSS, you can collect information in one place rather than visiting various webpages.

  • Content updates exist for websites, blogs, searches, everything!


RSS in Plain English



+ Why should I use it?
  1. It puts you in control of the information you receive
    1. Visit one website daily as opposed to 20
    2. Subscribe and unsubscribe easily
  2. Eliminates email spam, identity theft, inbox build up, having to contact listserv administrators.
  3. Organise content for later retrieval by folder, category or search
  4. Help prevent eyestrain through standardized text size and no pop ups/adverts
+ Feed Readers

You will need a reader or an aggregator to view your RSS subscriptions.


A feed aggregator, also known as a feed reader, news reader or simply aggregator, is a software application, webpage or service that collects content from disparate sources such as news headlines, blogs, podcasts, and vlogs and displays it in a single location for easy viewing.


Web based feed readers allow you to access your content from any computer with an internet connection. You do not have to download anything.


Personalized home pages provide a different, more visual format for your reading and can also incorporate non RSS feeds, eg search boxes


Web-based Feed Readers
Personalized Homepage


How to use Google Reader


1Google Reader constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. Whether a site updates daily or monthly, you can be sure that you won't miss a thing.


Google Reader Tutorial
A short tutorial on using Google's RSS aggregator to find information.


How to use PageFlakes

1At Pageflakes, you can easily customize the Internet and make it yours using ‘”Flakes” – small, movable versions of all of your web favorites that you can arrange on your personal homepage.


A brief tutorial on Pageflakes.

+ Subscribe to Content

You now need to subscribe or follow some feeds!


Look for the RSS symbol to see whether an RSS feed is available. It is normally indicated by the following images:

RSS or XML or Subscribe


If you are already logged in to your reader, a screen may appear which will subscribe you automatically.


If you get a page of code, simply cut and paste the URL and copy the URL into your reader's Add New Subscription feature.


Where can I search for feeds?



Revised AH 10/10

Created AH 09/08




+ Automatic Searches in Databases

With RSS, you can set up an automatic search for your search terms in many of our databases.



  1. Perform your search.
  2. Look for the RSS icon on the results page.
  3. This will normally take you to another screen where you can fill in the parameters (eg how often to search, how many items to display)
  4. Click on Create the RSS feed, and copy and paste the feed into your reader.



+ News and Current Events


Use RSS to stay up to date with news and current events. Alternatively, susbcribe to a program that uses RSS to gather news on a topic or theme.


Topic Trackers: Subscribe to keywords or phrases in news feeds


Google News

Perform your Google News search as usual (simple or advanced search). Make sure to include people's names or phrases in quotation marks eg "Mercedes Sosa" or "information literacy"

Click on the RSS logo in the address bar

Google Alerts: Subscribe to receive updates every time that new material that matches your keyword comes up on the web. Enter keywords in quotation marks to search for a phrase or person. E.g. “Mercedes Sosa” or “information literacy”


PubSub: Searches RSS content for keywords. Searches within Twitter, blogs and social media as well as web pages. You can also set up searches that will alert you when new material is published.


Lazyfeed: Select from pre-established topics and receive updates when new content in that area is published. It’s also very easy to re-publish or add your thoughts and opinions.


News Aggregators


Topix: Subscribe to receive real time news based on zipcode, theme, sports team, company or more. Topix aggregates and categorizes news from thousands of sources.

Techmeme: Allows you to follow all the top tech stories daily. Aggregates material from websites, blogs and news sites.


+ Table of Contents

Most journals will now give you the option to receive Table of Contents of new journal issues through RSS.



  1. Search for a journal or subject in TicTocs Journal Table of Contents Alert Service
  2. TicTocs provides the RSS feeds for hundreds of journals.
  3. Read the latest editions within this service or export the list to your reader.


  1. Search Ulrich's Periodicals Directory
  2. Use the Advanced Search: search by title keyword, subject, etc.and check the box to limit your search to journals with RSS Available.
  3. From the results screen click on the journal title that interests you.
  4. Click on the Abstracting / Indexing & Article Access tab to see the URL for the feed(s) for that journal.

Some smaller journals may not yet have RSS feeds. To obtain an up to date list of journals with RSS feeds, try TicTocs or check this list from the University of Liverpool.



+ New Publications in Chinook

UCB Libraries has started RSS feeds for new books in different subject areas. The RSS feeds are updated daily, and (in most cases) are a list of the new titles purchased in a particular subject area in the last 30 days. To see the feeds, click on the "New titles" link at the bottom of the Chinook main page

  1. Click on the orange subscribe button
  2. Copy and paste the URL (ends in .xml) into your feed reader.
  3. Do not paste the URL that ends in .html. This is a pretty version of the XML for people who do not have RSS readers.


+ Use the power of the crowds!

Source material using the power of the crowd! To keep up with up to the minute research, subscribe to feeds of people's bookmarks. You'll receive updates everytime somone tags an item on the web with your search terms. This is a great way to keep up to date with a new topic, eg the Semantic Web

  1. Search delicious or another bookmark site for tags that interest you.
  2. Scroll down and click on RSS feed at the borrom of the page to subscribe.



RSS feeds can also be adapted for communication with other people; share or highlight useful sources, embed a relevant RSS feed on a class webpage or blog etc.


Publish a simple RSS feed on a web page:

Publish a more complex RSS feed on a webpage:

  • Mash up your own RSS feed to produce an amalgamation of several different feeds filtered by keyword using Yahoo! Pipes or Feed Informer

Publish useful links and your commentary in an RSS feed:

  • Bookmark interesting items under a specific tag in delicious , e.g. US_elections, grab the RSS feed from Delicious, and publish it through Feedburner. People can then subscribe to your thoughts and comments.
  • Share items through Google Reader or Bloglines

Try these other links for ideas how to publish your own feeds and use RSS for educational purposes:

There is an ever growing number of ways you can use RSS. Try some of the following!


Put your Internet bookmarks, email, calendar and to-do lists all on one page using Pageflakes or Netvibes


Don't have any windows? Track the weather using The National Weather Service, Weather.com or Accuweather.com


Track your packages and auctions


Track photos on Flickr or videos on Youtube by keyword or contributor


Stay updated on someone's Google Calendar


Reed your favorite comics using Comicalert.com and The Webcomic List


Subscribe to job alerts


Find out what's going on in your city: Yay Longmont! Or try Eventful.com and Upcoming.org


Track weird blogs...


Get sports scores from ESPN


Keep track of Flight Delays


Subscribe to any search at Craigslist


Track price changes at Amazon with RSStalker


Follow Penguin of the Day


Learn a new word every day


One of best tips to deal with information overload is that you don't have to read everything... There are some great RSS tools that will help you filter the most important news or developments in a field, so you don't have to!


Try the following tools to help you keep up with news, while reading less.


Filter Pages

Feed Rinse is an easy to use tool that lets you automatically filter out syndicated content that you aren't interested in. It's like a spam filter for your RSS subscriptions. 


Limit the Number of Feeds

A microcosm of information overload, a person’s collection of RSS feeds grows organically and in an unorganised fashion. Set aside half an hour or more to weed through your RSS feeds, deciding which ones are essential to your work or personal life, and which ones you can delete. The latter tend to be the ones that you simply click through, do not read, feel guilty about, and tell yourself that you will read someday. There is no someday. Start deleting.


Organise Feeds

Organise your RSS feeds into subject-based folders. Set aside a primary folder, right at the top of your list, that includes all of your priority RSS feeds - the ones you read first. Look at those first each day, and only at the others when you need information on a particular subject or have the time to read them.


(Being Wired or Being Tired: 10 Ways to Cope with Information Overload Sarah Houghton-Jan)