3 June 2014

Missing RSS in our discovery layer

At MPOW we recently upgraded to the latest version of our discovery layer. There were a few odd things to deal with (you might have seen my recent post on the search box) but on the whole it looks fresher and I’m not aware of any grumbles from our customers.

That said, I was using a feature of the previous version that has not been continued in the latest version.

RSS feeds for search results. Here are some of the things I’d like to use it for.

  1. I would like to use RSS feeds to publicise new books in our collection in various channels.
  2. Previously we were doing this on our website using a Feedburner widget. Since the upgrade I have had to replace it with a search feed from Trove. The search is limited to items held at our library. The problem with this is that our customers clicking through to a title they like now get taken to Trove, and have to navigate through to our catalogue instead of directly to the record in Summon. I’m hesitant to put this in too many channels or give it higher visibility given the disjointed experience for customers.
  3. We had implemented a couple of RSS feeds in our Library Guides as well. These are now broken and the boxes have had to be deleted. These feeds were topic based eg. new journal articles on “blended learning”. Lost opportunity to drive traffic back to the discovery layer and the rest of the collection.
  4. I have no idea how many (if any) of our customers had set up search alerts using the RSS feeds in Summon 1.0. Many people do not check their feeds every day, not every feed would update with a new item frequently either, so it may be quite some time before they notice that the feed is broken. However, we once provided advice on how to do this using Summon in a Library Guide for those wishing to keep current in their discipline.
  5. Personal use – I had a search feed set up to keep track of new DVDs being added to our collection for weekend viewing. And when working on a research project on the use of photo-sharing in libraries I had a search feed set up to track any new literature that we had not yet found. This latter example I can still do using Trove and it will actually be better as I wouldn’t wish to limit it to MPOW collection. It should be broader. But the first example – I only want to know about the video if it’s on our shelves.

  6. Some time ago I sent in a suggestion to the vendor for a new books carousel drawing data from Summon (a bit like this) that could be plugged into websites. My suggestion was duly sent off to the developers for consideration, but clearly other development work was of prime importance when  planning a major interface redesign. Nevertheless – using RSS is a possibility for providing the underlying data to power such a widget or plugin. I wanted it to display book covers if they were available, and to be customisable to choose topics that would complement our communications and events planning. Of course there are other methods for doing this and they may come up with something fabulous.

My guess is that this feature was not used by many people, but some like me will miss it.