So if you often see these little icons on websites, rss but you are not sure what they mean, this page attempts to demystify rss feeds, syndication and podcasts.

Library RSS Feeds

The techie bit

RSS stands for ready simple syndication, and is basically a file which is marked up with xml. You click on the link to this file, and subscribe to it. The rss feed it updated by the owner/creator, and you will recieve all new items added to the feed. In order to read rss feeds however you need to subscribe using either your browser, or a third party piece of software. We recommend Google reader for this. There was a really nice article in Oprah's website of all places explaining rss feeds in a really simple way, and you can read it here: "How to explain rss feeds the Oprah way" They explain that rss feeds are a "way online for you to get a quick list of the latest story headlines from all your favorite websites and blogs all in one place".

What is an aggregator?

An rss feed aggregator is a piece of software or a webpage that displays rss feeds from different sources. Google Reader is an rss aggregator. It is also called an rss reader.

What is syndication?

Syndication is just another term for saying that information from a website can be embedded into another in the form of a web feed (rss feed)

How to use RSS Feeds

  1. click on the rss image or link in your browser. If you are using internet explorer the feed will automatically display in the browser and ask you if you want to subscribe to it. Sometimes however you will get an error or the feed will display as a page of wierd code. If this happens we recommend that you sign up to use feedly.
  2. Alternatively, you can copy the url of the feed into whatever your preferred rss reader software is. See below for a list of these.

How to use RSS feeds from Academic Search Complete, Business Source complete and Science Direct

List of rss and podcast software (online, desktop, android, ios software)

So what is a podcast?

A podcast is an rss feed which had either audio or video embedded in it. Most radio stations package some of their programmes as a podcast. Sometimes video podcasts are called vodcasts. Itunes has a really good list of podcasts that you can subscribe to for free. iTunes U is a fantastic educational resource. Check out these:

Check out these 15 podcasts that will make you smarter :)

Some of our favorites are the stuff you should know podcasts


So what do blogs have to do with rss feeds? Well, when someone writes a blog, you can then usually subscribe to their blog so that you can read the newest articles as rss feeds in your reader of choice.

Links checked February 17, 2016