Was anybody as disappointed as I was when I found out Google will be discontinuing their RSS feed aggregator, Google Reader? I use this tool to fuse together all of my blogger interests in one place: librarianship, fashion, social media and home design. All of these things, that have little to do with one another, can be found in my blogroll. We’re talking at least a hundred subscriptions (I might have problems). How in the world am I going to keep up with them now?
I wasn’t alone in my outrage. I read several articles that other bloggers wrote upset with the termination of a tool that some readers use religiously. However, once I started to delve into other articles, the termination of Google Reader didn’t seem so insane, just extremely premature. There are arguments that RSS feeds are becoming obsolete and no longer useful. I also read arguments saying that RSS feeds are esoteric, or not common to the average technology user. However, an even bigger percentage of tech writers argue that RSS is on the decline, true, but it’s nowhere near being dead. This debate reminded me a lot of our email discussion topic.
So what does this mean for libraries? Well, it’s one less RSS tool that a library can use if they wanted to have their patrons subscribe to their blog, or provide a public RSS feed for patrons to access multiple relevant blogs. It’s also one of the easiest to use (in my opinion), which is frustrating because users will face a learning curve transitioning to another reader. Libraries can also lose a lot of their readers in the shuffle from one reader to another. Some just won’t bother to do it. If libraries are utilizing blogs they should probably have a blog post alerting their readers of the change, and options on alternatives. This is a perfect example of why information professionals need to be up-to-date with changes in the information sphere. Without being alert to this change, they could wonder why their blog analytics have changed all of a sudden.
This also means that libraries may need to search for other digital means to direct traffic to their blog. Cross-publicizing their blog via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or Pinterest would be extremely useful in retaining old readers and attracting new ones.
Between now and July 1, I’ll be searching for a suitable replacement for my beloved Google Reader. Suggestions are welcome! 🙂