Reader’s Club: Librarians’ Book Reviews with RSS

Looking for a source of book reviews to put on your library site? Or perhaps just looking for a review of a recently published book? A source I just stumbled on, Reader’s Club, has just that: more than 2000 book reviews written by librarians and library staff at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina since 1998.
Reviews are categorized by genre. And, the reason this is germane here — every genre has an RSS feed. That’s more than 50 genre-based feeds available through the RSS Feeds Directory. Feeds are limited to books added in the past 45 days, but the complete list of reviews is searchable via the web site.
Whether this is a project to emulate within your own library, or great source of reviews to aid in collection development or to provide patrons, this is a great idea.

RSS Book Publishing Timeline

I never knew that anyone was publishing books via RSS in a serial format… But apparently, they are, and have been for some time. A brief history of this novel (excuse the pun) serialization technique can be found at Names@Work. (This site is a plug for post is about the book Pulse: The Coming of Age of Systems and Machines Inspired by Living Things, which is being published via RSS and email in serial format at this site.)
[28 October 2006: As noted by Antony in the comment below, I mischaracterized his site in my original post. I’ve edited the text to clear up my misconception.]

Clever Use of Tag Clouds

The University of Western Ontario’s office of Communications and Public Affairs offers a directory of blogs published by members of the UWO community. Not only is the directory a good idea, but they also provide a tag cloud that covers the content in all these different blogs. To see the cloud, look at the top of their main weblog page.
The tag cloud shows a summary of all of the blogs under this umbrella. Some are personal, some are project-based, some are from academic departments — they run the gamut. The blogs may be on a UWO server or they may be hosted elsewhere — as long as the blogger has let UWO know they’re part of that community, they’re included. Very clever.
The tag cloud itself is generated through I’d be curious to know if anyone has developed an open source tag cloud generator — something that would take a set of RSS feeds and generate clouds… I can see that being very handy for a number of libraries, or other institutions. If you know of one, let me know in the comments.

Amazon’s Plogs

More than just another cute neologism, Amazon’s newly released plogs (which stands for personalized web log, as if we needed a new word for personally aggregated content…) is an interesting marketing and promotional tool. In a nutshell, an Amazon customer who has turned on the service sees weblog entries from authors of books that customer has purchased. Messages you’ve read disappear (you can recall them at the author’s Amazon blog). And each entry in your plog has a permalink so you can share it with your friends (and potential Amazon customers).
I suspect a clever programmer could use existing RSS feeds from authors’ blogs (for those authors who have blogs on the public Internet) and add recent entries to an author display from the catalog. Probably only best sellers and authors with good marketing teams behind them have their own blogs, but it could be an interesting start.

[Via LISNews.]

Dissertations from ProQuest by Subject

ProQuest is now offering RSS feeds by subject for its PhD dissertation collection. There are feeds for about 30 subject areas in education, engineering, biological sciences, earth & environmental sciences, political sciences, sociology, and physics. While there are still some gaps in subject coverage, this is a great start. They also have separate set of feeds tailored to business school curricula.

Blogs as Patron Intelligence

In one of today’s Library Stuff posts, Steve points to Tufts student Dan Bruno’s personal blog, in which Dan comments on the breadth of resources available through the Tisch Library, the undergraduate research library here on my campus.
As a librarian, I find it gratifying when a customer takes the time to say thanks for the resources provided through my professional colleague’s efforts. But what I found even more interesting was that several of my colleagues commented on Dan’s post!
Which brings me to the point of this entry. No, I’m no commenting on the intelligence of library patrons. I’m thinking more along the lines of “competitive intelligence” or good old-fashioned “market research.”. How many of us have set up a Bloglines or Technorati or whatever other RSS-delivered search for the name of our own institution? I hadn’t, until today ( Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on feedback — positive or negative — because I wasn’t looking for it in the right place?

Blog as Library Home Page

Welcome to the out-of-the-box content management revolution, Meadville Public Library! While not the first library to use weblog software as the underpinnings for a library web site, MPL has done a very nice job designing a clean, easy-to-use, and attractive library web site using WordPress. The home page and library departments are dynamic, using the weblog as the source of the content — library news and information — and secondary pages (Ask a Librarian, policies, etc.) are static. But all managed by the weblog software.
I was particularly struck by the Children’s Room, one of the library’s departments, has a much more colorful and entertaining design than the home page, as befits the part of the library for youngsters. The blog content is links to children’s’ author’s web pages — a clever use of the blog, and something that will clearly draw young reader’s attention more than announcements or library information ever would.
Since it’s a blog, of course, community members can subscribe to the latest news from the main, children’s, fiction, and “main floor” (new books) via their favorite aggregator.

[Via nerdcore.]

Short-Lived, Special-Purpose Weblogs

Steve Lawson blogged Internet Librarian 2005 and highlighted a very clever use of the weblog. While many libraries use blogs and RSS for library news and announcements, the Virginia Commonwealth University’s libraries set up a short-term weblog for Black History Month this past February. In the weblog, the librarians highlighted items in their collections, resources on the Internet, images from their special collections, and events around the country in observation of BHM.
Special-purpose, short-term blogs are a simple tool for drawing attention to events or topics of short-term interest; with a small investment of time and resources (in terms of staff time to set up and maintain the blog, as well as add content) and a bit of planning, a library could easily generate feeds for other campus or local organizations highlighting the ‘good stuff’ the library offers on a given topic or event.

[Via Steve Lawson’s See Also… weblog, where he reported on the conference.]

Shockwave Audio and Weblogs

The Neef Law Library blog at Wayne State University is using Shockwave audio files to record blog content. A slightly different form of podcasting, but it works very nicely without the ‘pod’ or iTunes. It uses ClassCaster as the underlying technology.

I gather that the ultimate use of this will be to podcast courses, the Neef librarians are testing it with other content. And since it uses Shockwave, a fairly common browser plug-in, it’s pretty universally accessible.

Correction: 4 November 2005: Elmer at Content let me know, very nicely, that I didn’t do my research very well!

By way of correction, we are not using Shockwave to record podcasts. We are embedding a Flash MP3 player object in the post to play the audio, but the recording is done using a telephone connection or by uploading locally recorded MP3s. We are using the open source Musicplayer at the moment, but are developing our own player that is more tuned to playing single MP3s from a blog post.

Thanks for the correction.