Keeping Up to Date

Part of being a library professional (not limited to someone who holds an MLIS), especially one employed in a position that deals heavily with technology, is keeping up-to-date on developments in the field.

In fact, for my position, keeping up to date is part of my job:

“Keeps abreast of developments in emerging technologies, digital library interface capabilities and enhancements and trends in user behaviour and the consumer technology marketplace…”

Staying up to date in a library might once have been possible with journals and conferences, but now with new developments and announcements, news is something you need to stay on top of every day. This allows you to know about new gadgets before patrons bring them in, know about changes to databases before they happen so that you can prepare, and know what to order when new products hit the market.

Before starting my Lib Tech Diploma I depended on a well organized list of links in my browser that I would visit, one at a time, hoping that I would catch interesting updates. Discovering RSS feed readers was a game changer. The ability to have website updates delivered to one place, was wonderful. I recommended using a feed reader to everyone that I thought might be interested (and even those who might not be). I am a huge fan of RSS.

Fast forward to 2013 and Google’s announcement that they are powering down Google Reader. I get it. It isn’t a product that provides revenue for them, and perhaps it isn’t as well used as their other free products. But those who do use it are news junkies, and news junkies can be technology writers. When you sunset a product loved by writers, you hear about it. The best commentary on the event is this Economist article Utilities: Google’s Google problem.

While upset about the news, I immediately started looking for an alternative service. For the last two weeks I have been using Feedly almost exclusively. It has been very good, the interface is great, and even though it is currently just syncing with Google Reader, the company promises to be ready to standalone come June. The app is also available on Android (and iOS), but on my tablet there is a weird caching lag that makes paging through articles a bit difficult.

If Feedly doesn’t sound like the RSS feed reader for you, Gizmodo helpfully listed 8 Google Reader Alternatives. There should be at least one there that works – The Old Reader looks nice, but it is having some difficulties keeping up with the increased number of users.

But it is important to stay up to date, and RSS is still the best way to manage news, since updates wait for you- unlike Twitter.

Agree? Disagree?