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Cool Tools (selected by the Arnold Library): RSS (Oct 2009)

Web-based applications recommended by your librarians to make information gathering, tracking and organization more efficient.

How-to Set up RSS Feeds

There are two basic steps to set up RSS feeds

  1. Set up an RSS reader
  2. Subscribe to RSS feeds from websites

Setting up an RSS reader

Many different RSS readers are available that display all your RSS feeds in one location. There are many web-based RSS applications to choose from. Some email clients, including Microsoft Outlook, offer RSS capabilities. Another alternative, if you use Internet Explorer as your browser, is to have your feeds collected by IE in the Favorites>Feeds section of your toolbar. The feeds are available like bookmarks; not aggregated and without additional organizational features.

Subscribing to feeds

Most websites with constantly changing content offer RSS feeds. Look the words RSS feed or one of these common graphics: , or  . When you click on these links, you will be given the option to subscribe. If you use Firefox as your browser, you will be given the option to send the feed to your Google reader. You can also follow the link to the RSS feed, copy that URL and paste it into you Google Reader page.

If a feed is available from a website, most browsers will indicate that in the toolbar and you can click on that icon to get the feed and subscribe to it.

and more... customization

Most RSS readers allow you to customize your experience. You can easily

  • Change the display (show titles only in a List, or show title and first sentence - Expanded)
  • Rename subscriptions to something more personally meaningful
  • Star items you want to mark
  • Easily delete feeds that you find are not important
  • Organize feeds into folders
  • Mark items as read (by scrolling in the Expanded view, or after viewing and reading the full article)
  • Email, rate, share items, or even translate them into other languages!
  • Click through links to visit the website or the specific updated page

What is RSS?

RSS (really simple syndication) is a great tool for getting updated content from websites.

What is RSS and I should I use it?

RSS is a tool for reading websites efficiently. It allows users to receive announcements, news, abstracts, blog entries, etc., known as "feeds", from sites that regularly add new content, and it aggregates this content in a centralized place, organizing and displaying it according to user preference. This eliminates the need for users to visit each website individually.

We like it because

  • you don't need to visit multiple websites to stay current 
  • you don't waste your time checking websites for updates when there haven't been any
  • the "feed" does not clutter your email inbox but is sent to a central location where you check all your feeds

Use RSS to obtain

  • news stories
  • updates to frequently run searches
  • journal contents
  • blog entries
  • important new web content and more

How can I receive RSS feeds?

To be able to receive RSS feeds, you will need to have an RSS reader. Currently, there are hundreds of RSS readers available on the internet, either commercially or for free. Three main types of RSS readers exist-web-based, standalone applications, and plugins that work within an existing program.

Any good reader will allow you to add and customize the organization of subscriptions. Directions for adding subscriptions to a specific reader will appear in the help section or on the reader's website.

We recommend a web-based reader, which allow a user to check their feeds by accessing a webpage. This is convenient because a program does not have to be installed on a computer, and it allows users to read their feeds from anywhere. 

Many people appreciate the convenience of reading RSS feeds right alongside their email, and this is a possibility in many popular email programs, including Microsoft Outlook.

RSS in plain English

    For a clear explanation of RSS, watch the animation from Commoncraft

    Suggested Feeds

    Medical and Scientific Journals

        Table of Contents and Abtracts for the most recently published issues
        RSS Feed URL:

        Table of Contents and Abtracts for the most recently published issues
        RSS Feed URL:

        Table of Contents and Abtracts for the most recently published issues
        RSS Feed URL:

        New England Journal of Medicine
        Table of Contents and Abtracts for the most recently published issues
        RSS Feed URL:

    Health and Science News - National and World

        ABC News: Health
        RSS Feed URL:

        Health News:
        RSS Feed URL: Health
        RSS Feed URL: – Health
        RSS Feed URL:

        BBC News | Health
        RSS Feed URL:

        New York Times – Health
        RSS Feed URL:

    Subject Guide

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    Mailstop: B1-010

    phone: x.4314
    Website / Blog Page

    Google Reader Alternatives

    Google announced that it is sunsetting its popular RSS reader, Google Reader, as of 7/1/2013. Here are some recommended alternatives. For more information, see Lifehacker's Five Best Google Reader Alternatives or Mashable's Check Out These Google Reader Alternatives