Task Force on Social Networking Software

Medical Library Association

About RSS

What is a RSS feed?
A RSS feed is a format for delivering regularly changing web content, such as from blogs and other web applications. Depending on where you look, RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary".

What is a RSS reader?
The RSS icon - this icon indicates a blog or website's content is syndicated RSS content is read using software called a "RSS reader," "feed reader" or an "news aggregator." Some browsers (for example Firefox and Safari) have built-in RSS readers. Other RSS readers are web-based, email-based, or operating system based (i.e.: is accessed on your computer desktop instead of via the web)

To subscribe to a site's RSS feed, click the RSS icon (see image) or enter the RSS feed url into the reader. The RSS reader checks subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds. To view updated content the user simply has to go to their RSS Reader.

Why use a RSS feed & RSS reader?

RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that's easier than checking them manually. By using a RSS reader a user can subscribe to multiple blogs and preview content from many sources from one location. For more information, see "How can someone subscribe to my RSS feed?" in the Technical Questions section.

The key to understanding RSS feeds is the term 'syndication'. Sitcoms 'in syndication' are recast television programs appearing on a different channel than they originally aired. In the same way, an RSS feed allows you to 'watch' a blog on a different 'station' than it was originally published.

Popular RSS readers
Web-based RSS Readers
Google Reader
Microsoft Live Search
My Yahoo
Browser-based RSS Readers
Internet Explorer 7.0

Email-based RSS Readers
Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
Mozilla Thunderbird 2
Operating System-based Readers
Mac OS X

Newz Crawler

Further Reading

iGoogle is now my homepage and RSS feed
What is RSS (on USA.gov)
Print or via online subscription
Wu WG, Li J.
RSS made easy: a basic guide for librarians.
Med Ref Serv Q. 2007 Spring;26(1):37-50.
PMID: 17210548 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Cooke CA, Gruwell CA, Littleton D.
Current awareness in the new millennium: RSS.
Med Ref Serv Q. 2006 Spring;25(1):59-69
PMID: 16635958 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]