March 29, 2006

Scopus and EBSCOHost Add RSS

.: I am back from the ACS Conference in Atlanta. My presentation was kindly received by those in attendance for an eight-speaker session that began at 08:00 on a Sunday morning!

.: Nice to see that Ebsco has released RSS feeds for search questions, as well as a visual search function, as reported in The Distant Librarian. While it's nice to see another database offer a function that EV2 has had since July 2005, EBSCO has buried the feeds within its Search Alert function, and it requires a 17-step procedure to set it up, which is a bit clunky. EV2 puts the RSS alongside a search as it develops, making for a quick c&p into an RSS reader.

Scopus is about to release RSS feeds as well, apparently on April 5th, 2006. More information here.

March 7, 2006


.: The American Chemical Society now offers a wide range of RSS feeds, including a News From ACS feed, as noted on e3 Information Overload. The full range of RSS feeds from ACS are listed here.

Speaking of the ACS, I will be attending its 231st Meeting in Atlanta in less than three weeks. I will be giving a presentation on blogs as part of the Social Software and Chemical Information session on Sunday, March 26.

March 1, 2006

More on RSS Feeds

.: Rich Hoeg of Honeywell in Minneapolis is the creator of eContent - Technical Knowledge Management Online Resources. He has a number of good posts about All Things RSS. A couple of interest are:

December 16, 2005

An STLQ Update

.: A note to all that I will be away from the office from 17 December 2005 to 2 January 2006. Postings on STLQ will be few to none.

.: The problems I have been having with RSS feeds continue unabated, and the frustrations are unending. Those who have subscribed to STLQ using Bloglines now find their feed pointing to my personal blog, the pod bay door. I have contacted Bloglines, and continue to wait to see if they can solve the problem. They did respond once, indicating that the feeds had been reset for both blogs, but nothing has changed. I apologize to everyone for this continuing and very annoying glitch.

If you wish to resubscribe, please use this feed:

November 17, 2005

RSS Feeds Added to IEEE Periodicals

.: John Platt from IEEE sent the following e-mail yesterday, advising of the new RSS feeds from IEEE:

As part of yesterday's maintenance release of the IEEE Xplore digital library, RSS feeds for new issues of IEEE journals are now available for all titles. Feeds are available individually from each journal's main page in IEEE Xplore.

To see one example, visit the Proceedings of the IEEE main page at

RSS feeds can also be found through the Table of Contents Alerts service, which continues to offer notification by email.

This is great news, allowing users interested in IEEE titles to embed RSS feeds into their newsreaders, and reduce incoming e-mail. However, there is nothing on the Tables of Contents Alerts page about RSS feeds. Check this page instead.

April 8, 2005

Taking RSS and Faceted Searching Into The Engineering Classroom

:: With the advent of faceted searching and RSS feeds in Engineering Village 2, the onus to spread the word falls upon, among others, liaison librarians working in engineering and its sub-disciplines. My subject and liaison responsibilities are chemical and materials engineering, mechanical engineering, nanotechnology, and engineering management on my campus. (Aside: a new responsibility includes providing similar liaison services to the fledgling U of A Space Research group.)

Engineering Village 2 has moved ahead of other db producers in offering RSS feeds. With prompting from academic librarians (among others), Rafael Sidi & Co ensured that the EV2 RSS feeds would work within Bloglines, a welcome development indeed.

Yesterday, I gave my annual information resources lecture to graduate students and faculty in Mechanical Engineering. It was the first opportunity I had to present the RSS function within EV2 to a captive audience decidedly interested in these new features. In my lectures, I have 50 minutes to cover everything - library services, databases of relevance, resource guides, etc. I decided that in order to do this properly, and not alienate or confuse the audience, I would need to spend the majority of the lecture covering EV2's new offerings of faceted searching and RSS feeds.

A major concern for those of us who want our users to try the new EV2 features is that the majority of said users haven't used, or even heard of either of them, certainly not faceted searching. Can we reasonably expect to introduce RSS as well as the new faceted search feature within EV2, in what amounts to about 30 minutes of a 50-minute lecture, and do it successfully? To put it another way, I didn't want to look at any member of the audience at the end of the RSS/faceted search portion of my presentation, and find myself staring into the eyes of a chicken, eyes glazed over, no comprehension achieved whatsoever.

I spent time considering the best way to do this. I worked with my 2004 powerpoint slides, eliminated some of them, redesigned the others, eliminated some slides altogether, and created two ppt slides to use to explain faceted searching and RSS in EV2. I decided the best way to approach this (gently), would be to review the Compendex db, also mention Inspec and NTIS, because all three are searchable when you begin an "Easy Search" within EV2, and then briefly explain faceted searching. I used this slide for support, and then switched to a live search on Compendex.

Beginning the search, I mentioned that when you choose Compendex, EV2 opens in Quick Search mode, defaulting to Compendex only (Inspec and NTIS remain unchecked). I explained that to get to the faceted search feature, you need to switch to Easy Search. Once there, I began a search with the phrase self-assembly, and added Controlled Vocabulary terms monolayers, substrates, and nanostructured materials. During this process, I took the time to describe the faceted search feature by explaining the facets or clusters, in the right-hand column of the search, including Controlled Vocabulary, Author, Date, Language, etc. I wanted to ensure that the class understood the faceted searching function before moving on to RSS.

Having reached that point, it was time to move on to RSS. I switched back to ppt, and displayed this slide, created to explain RSS without causing weeping and gnashing of teeth. I tried to avoid all jargon and acronymns, and introduced Bloglines without discussing blogs in detail, but instead focusing on its function as an RSS feeds reader. I returned to EV2, clicked on the RSS button for the above search, and showed the class the long, unintelligble URL that pops up, advising them not to be concerned about its size or what it means. I switched to Bloglines, and logged into an account I had created for the class, into which I had already embedded two EV2 searches, so that they could see examples of using RSS. I cut and pasted the URL from the live EV2 search into Bloglines, to illustrate how to "subscribe" to an RSS feed, and finally, briefly demonstrated the "edit" function within Bloglines, which allows the user to change a feed description that looks something like: "( (self assembly) AND (({monolayers}) WN CV) AND (({substrates}) WN CV) AND ..... ", and change it something like "Self assembly and monolayers with substrates."

At that point I stopped, and ask the class something like, "So, what do you think? Does the use of faceted searching, and embedding an RSS feed in Bloglines make sense, based on what I presented to you? Are you still with me" Heads nodded in the affirmative, and I ended by referring the class to a handout I created to help them use Easy Search to get to the faceted searching functionality of EV2, and to them take an RSS feed and use it in Bloglines. After the class, I spoke to interested students for another 30 minutes. The full ppt presentation used in the mech eng graduate class is here.

I felt that the way I approached the lecture, i.e., how I presented the concepts of faceted searching and RSS with Bloglines - slowly and at a very basic level (not discussing blogs, for example), worked quite well. It was a gamble - I'd not presented something like this before, and I had to give it my best shot. I share my experience here because others may be considering presentations of a similar nature in their classes, and I think it's something we need to be doing anyway. One hopes that EV2 is but the first of many, if not all, major databases to offer RSS feeds with search results. The question is, what's taking the rest of them so long?

April 7, 2005

Elsevier Newsletter Adds RSS Feed

:: Well, duh. Finally, another publisher has added an RSS feed to its newsletter. Elsevier's SD Connect is now available in RSS. We continue to wonder: what is taking publishers so long to offer RSS feeds for their various press releases, newsletters, updates, and the like? (Via Shifted.)

:: BTW, regarding the blog article mentioned in the previous post, I am waiting for confirmation of approval to post the article to STLQ. I hope to have an answer later today.

March 16, 2005

Latest Ei Update Available, Featuring Yrs Truly

:: The March/April 2005, v3 n1 issue of Ei Update is available for viewing, featuring updates on faceted searching and the forthcoming study: Role of Information in Innovation 2005. The Librarian's Corner for this issue was written my your humble engineering librarian-type weblogger, and is called RSS: Moving Into the Mainstream.

February 18, 2005

The RSS Challenge

:: With the announcement of Engineering Village 2's new RSS feature, the responsibility for getting the word out falls to the practitioners, namely us - the librarians in the trenches. Having confirmed that the EV2 RSS feature is working in Bloglines when off campus, but on a proxy-authenticated computer, I decided to mention it in a class I taught this afternoon to 45 fourth-year chemical engineering design students. When I asked them who knew what RSS is, none of them raised her or his hand. When I asked how many knew about blogs, one student raised his hand, although after the class, it became evident that a few more of them knew of blogs.

Since the fall of 2004, I've mentioned blogs briefly in the presentations I give to students in design engineering classes in mechanical, materials, and chemical engineering. Last fall, seven student groups from Mechanical and Chemical classes approached me for assistance setting up a blog for their design projects. In the chemical engineering class in which I taught this afternoon, I mentioned blogs again, in the context of using them as a project management tool, just as the class was ending (I had run out of time). Afterwards, two groups approached me, each to discuss setting up a blog, and a number of other students took a handout I had cribbed together from notes made in the fall on setting up a blog on the U of Alberta server. The students who spoke with me were keen on trying blogs, and one student remarked that she thought using blogs for design project coordination was a brilliant idea. True, and it would be much easier to spread the blog gospel if our university offered weblogs to its users.

RSS is another issue. That none of the chemical engineering students knew about RSS was to me, not surprising. They are focused on other things. But if we are to begin to make use of RSS in an instructional, research setting such as this class, the question becomes, what might we need to do to establish the awareness of RSS to the undergraduate student in the first place? In tandem with that question, we may also need to consider this: how important is it for librarians to help the undergrad become aware of RSS?

(Instructing in this class, which I've done a number of times before, also served to remind me of the increasing number of resources available to researchers in chemical engineering, and by extension, all other disciplines. The number of resources available seems to be growing at a geometric rate. I'll save my rant on that for another time.)

University of Alberta Libraries Adds 285 RSS Feeds

:: The University of Alberta Libraries, my home base, has added approximately 285 RSS feeds to include both New Books by Library and New Books by Call Number. For example, the list of RSS feeds for the T Classification. The RSS feeds cover not just the University of Alberta Libraries, but all members of the NEOS Library Consortium, in and around Edmonton.

Kenton Good, who created the feeds, offers an explantion here of how he and his team did it.

February 16, 2005

EV2 Rolls out RSS

:: Engineering Village 2 is now including RSS feeds with every search query. It's a brilliant move, and sets a new standard for "current awareness" regarding database searching. From the Ei site:

Engineering Village 2 provides RSS feeds of your search queries. Once you have executed a search, you can post the latest updated records that match your query to your RSS aggregator and share the results with others within your institution. Engineering Village 2 RSS feed includes titles of the records and links back to Engineering Village 2 for the detailed record. You need to be in an IP authenticated environment that has access to Engineering Village 2 to view the detailed record.
What's more, the RSS feeds work in standalone RSS readers like Awasu or Sharpreader, but also in web-based readers like Bloglines or My Yahoo.

Until this morning (now Feb 18), the only glitch was that it wouldn't work outside of an IP-authorized environment, even with proxy authentication. However, in the past 15 hours, the wizards at Engineering Information upgraded the functionality of their RSS feature, so it now works when you are off-campus, or away from your IP-authorized location. From off-campus, authenticate using your institution's protocol(s), check your EV2 RSS feeds in Bloglines, click on any entry from a feed, and it opens another window with the Detailed Record. Score another coup for EV2!

December 20, 2004

The Role of RSS in Science Publishing - Syndication and Annotation on the Web

:: The v12 n10, December 2004, issue of D-Lib Magazine features an article by Tony Hammond, Timo Hannay, and Ben Lund, three members of the Nature Publishing Group. The article, The Role of RSS in Science Publishing, discusses Really Simple Syndication, (or Rich Site Summary, or RDF Site Summary, depending on the hour of the day), and how its use is growing within science publishing. From the introduction:

The bastion of online publishing is under threat as never before. RSS is the very antithesis of the website. It is not a 'home page' for visitors to call at, but rather it provides a synopsis, or snapshot, of the current state of a website with simple titles and links. While titles and links are the joints that articulate an RSS feed, they can be freely embellished with textual descriptions and richer metadata annotations. Thus said, RSS usually functions as a signal of change on a distant website, but it can more generally be interpreted as a kind of network connector—or glue technology—between disparate applications. Syndication and annotation are the order of the day and are beginning to herald a new immediacy in communications and information provision. This paper describes the growing uptake of RSS within science publishing as seen from Nature Publishing Group's (NPG)

June 16, 2004

Google Considering RSS?

:: A report from suggests that Google is mulling over offering RSS feeds for some of its services. Currently, Google uses Atom as its news feeder, rendering it non-functional for most users unless they are registered Bloggers. With the indexing of scholarly dbs such as IEEE Xplore and journal packages such as IoP, Google's importance among scitech librarians is increasing. Adding RSS feeds to Google products makes good sense.

June 13, 2004

RSS In Library Applications

:: Gerry McKiernan at Iowa State U has created another useful site, called RSS(sm): Rich Site Services:

RSS(sm): Rich Site Services is a categorized registry of library services that are delivered or provided through RSS/XML or Atom feeds. RSS is an initialism for RDF Site Summary / Rich Site Summary / Really Simple Syndication. In general, for each entry, the home institution library is listed, as is a hotlinked entry for the item. When available, a link to the feed, or an associated information page, is provided.
Introduced on June 6, 2004, links and RSS feeds are listed by categories, including: announcements, cataloguing, databases, instruction, Internet resource guides, new books, new journal issues, new, and table of contents. Gerry posted messages about his project to the Chemical Information Sources Discussion List (CHMINF-L). Read more here and here. He notes:
I am greatly interested in learning of ANY and ALL
bibliographic/abstract databases that offer RSS feeds. Such feeds might offer current search results, or automatic updates for a saved search strategy. I would be interested in any current operational systems, working prototypes, or projects under consideration.
If you know of such RSS feeds, e-mail Gerry at gerrymck AT iastate DOT edu. I've added the page to STLQ, bottom, right-hand column.