The first requirement of this post is to provide two examples of ‘RSS in action’. To this end I have found the State Library of New South Wales and the University of Cambridge Library. Both of these organisations appear to have a comprehensive sets of RSS feeds to which one can subscribe.

As RSS is intended to inform subscribers when information has changed, libraries and information services can utilise RSS in many ways to meet the information needs of their users. One of the more obvious ways that RSS can be used is in supplying information about new acquisitions. The State Library of New South Wales does this very well providing a generic link for the collection as a whole but then providing more links to enable the user the ability to select a more specific part of the collection:

State Library of New South Wales RSS Feeds Page

State Library of New South Wales RSS Feeds Page

As you can see, the user can drill down to item format or language, or they can select from specific catalogues.  This means that the user can reduce the amount of information that they receive within their RSS reader/aggregator. Ensuring only the information they are interested in is shown to them.

RSS can also be used by libraries to notify users of due dates, outstanding fees, the status of a reservation or interlibrary loan request, even upcoming events. The University of Cambridge Library offers many of these but also links for job vacancies and information about downtime:

University of Cambridge Library RSS Feeds

University of Cambridge Library RSS Feeds

RSS also enhances the user experience of the library service by providing the information to the user before they ‘request’ the information. This is where the question of ‘push’ or ‘pull’ comes in (De Sarker, 2012, 5): Is RSS push or pull? In many ways it is both: by changing the information on the web page, the RSS service is ‘pushing’ information out (to the feed reader or aggregator), but in subscribing to a specific RSS feed and reading the same, the user is ‘pulling’ information in.

RSS has an advantage over email subscriptions in that the user will only receive the information they have asked for as the subscription is to a specific URL. As noted by Lan and Sie (2010) when one subscribes to a web resource via email there is a good chance that they will also receive spam or advertising (Lan & Sie, 2010, 725) but due to the nature of RSS such spamming cannot happen.


De Sarker, T., (2012). Analyzing RSS applications on library web sites. Library Hi Tech News. 29(5), pp.4-21.

Lan, Y. and Sie, Y., (2010). Using RSS to support mobile learning based on media richness theory. Computers & Education. Vol. 55, pp.723-32.

State Library of New South Wales. (2012). RSS feeds. Retrieved from

University of Cambridge. (2012). RSS feeds. Retrieved from