Monday, January 14, 2008

RSS creation service for faculty?

Is any library out there offering anything like this?: a service to work with faculty/instructional designers to create custom RSS feeds, based on the specific needs of a class or even assignment. Say a faculty member approached us and said they wanted a way to keep their students appraised of current events, research and opinions in, for example, nursing. We could then work with them to identify and aggregate RSS feeds from various sources (a custom EBSCOhost CINAHL search, prominent nursing professional blogs, news sites, and others, for example). We could then either display those feeds in a web page within the library or, ideally (although at present there are security issues involved in this) directly into one or more RSS feeds within the Angel course (for example as a scrolling feed on the course home page).

My biggest concern would be longer-term maintenance of these feeds. I could easily see these resources being reused semester to semester and eventually some of the feeds would become inactive or just disappear. For example, I believe either EBSCO or ProQuest feeds get deleted if they haven't been accessed for several weeks, which might pose a problem if the feeds only are used at a certain point in the term. How could that be combated on larger and longer-term scales? Would it be more advisable and scalable, for example, for we librarians to simply suggest feed sources and perhaps tools to build/aggregate/display those feeds than to build the resource ourselves? Of course, doing that would cut off a lot of our less tech-savvy faculty (which would be a majority) from using it.