Two Medical Library RSS Services

I think it was a little over a year ago that I gave up on the idea of building my own portal for medical information RSS feeds because I had started chatting with Frankie Dolan (of MedWorm and LibWorm fame) and suggesting ideas to her instead. I still get most of my medical RSS feeds from MedWorm, but I’m enjoying seeing how others are building medical RSS portals.

Today I’m looking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Ebling Library for Health Sciences RSS E-Journal Feeds by Subject and at the Harvey-Semester JournalBot.

I learned that UW-M libraries were up to good RSS-ish things from Ratcatcher’s post the other day that contained an abstract of an upcoming paper:

Developing and Marketing an RSS Journal Service for your Library
Authors: Erika L. Sevetson, MS, Christopher Hooper-Lane, MA, AHIP, Allan R. Barclay, MLIS, AHIP, Ebling Library, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Deborah Copperud, MA, School of Library and Information Science, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Abstract: More and more journals are making their tables of contents available via RSS feed; however, barriers still exist between the user and the content. A working group at a large, Midwestern academic health sciences library set out in Fall 2006 to “explore possibilities for developing an RSS current awareness service that would categorize health sciences RSS feeds and integrate them with SFX, document delivery, and RefWorks.” We developed a 4-phase plan, including overhauling our existing RSS journal feeds pages, developing bundled OPML packages for quick subscription to several journals, developing a shopping cart-like application for users to easily create customized collections, and developing instructional and promotional plans for staff and patrons. This panel will provide an overview of the project, focusing on work process, technology, marketing, and instruction and education. The panel discussion will include 15 minutes for audience discussion.

(Since I won’t be able to make it to this event, could someone please send me lots of detailed notes? Transcripts? Video recordings? Holograms?)

A little digging turned up this page at Ebling which lets the user select a subject, then see available RSS feeds for journals covering that subject (without reloading the page- a nice AJAXy touch). For example: Say we’ve got a hypothetical cardiologist: she could click “Cardiology” and get a nice list of TOC feeds for journals (through EZproxy) of interest to cardiologists.


Since the feed is retrieved through EZproxy, I’m guessing that these feeds will allow the user to click on an item in an aggregator and log in through EZproxy to get the full text. I also like that it offers an OPML file for ALL the feeds in the subject. Awesome. (Next, maybe they could add filtering functions to let our example hypothetical cardiologist user filter the journal feeds she selects for keywords she cares most about.)

The Harvey Semester JournalBot takes a sort of a “wizard” approach, guiding our hypothetical cardiologist through a process of creating a personalized feed (via PubMed API?) tailored for her specific needs and preferences.

First, the JournalBot asks the user to select a subject from a drop-down menu:

(The JournalBot can also let the user enter a MeSH term, but if the user had mastery of MeSH, she wouldn’t need the “wizard.”)

Next the JournalBot prompts the user to select a specific cardiovascular disorder:

Now JournalBot prompts the user to select from which journals she wants articles on this specific cardiovascular disorder…

…and asks the user to choose how many articles from each journal she wants and how old the articles can be:

Lastly, JournalBot offers the user a vanilla feed and a link to add the feed to Google Reader or iGoogle:

I love to see that academic medical libraries are developing services like these, and can’t wait to see what else is coming.

4 thoughts on “Two Medical Library RSS Services

  1. Hi David;
    You managed to find an “incomplete” subject! Most of our subject areas offer a bundled feed for “Top 10” jrnls as well as “all journals.” Clearly we missed a few, though. Check out Public Health or Epidemiology for one example. In a subject like Anatomy, where there are fewer then 10 jrnls in the collection, we didn’t bother to winnow it down further, though.

    Occasionally, if an important journal didn’t provide a feed through our subscription or the publisher, we created the feed through PubMed.

    I’ll let one of my colleagues comment on the technical side of things, if they care to…

  2. Pingback: PabloG » Blog Archive » links for 2007-09-20