Feeding the five thousand (and more)

By Nick Holmes on February 26, 2007
Filed under Feeds, Information management

There’s a gathering clamour amongst law librarians for publishers to provide new book title information via RSS feeds.

Connie Crosby’s call is echoed by lo-fi Librarian and James Mullan at LI Issues.

This is not perhaps the most exciting type of current awareness information that might spring to the creative minds in the publishing houses, but it is bread and butter information about their product needed by all law librarians, law booksellers and so on. It is essential information often provided at present by archaic means: via snail-mailed print fliers, static pages on websites, or spreadsheets/Word documents, often compiled “manually” and emailed at best monthly. How really, really useful it would be if they would just provide it as RSS feeds instead. And how really, really time-saving for the publishers.

Says Connie in her column on LLRX The Tao of Law Librarianship:

So many publishers already have new titles sections on their websites. It is not that difficult to code these in XML rather than HTML to create a feed. And possibly some are already being fed to their own websites as feeds, so why not make these accessible to the customer? The trick is getting the non-technical people who are in control in the various publishing houses understand what RSS is and how it would benefit both them and their customers.”

That’s it in a nutshell. The techie bit is easy, but the techies need to be told what to do. Those in control just need to sit down for a few minutes in the board room and make a list of the “reports” they currently produce for public consumption and agree that disseminating these using pre-21st century technology is not best serving their customers and agents. Then give this list to the techies saying “Produce us RSS feeds for all these”.

The list would include the called-for information on forthcoming and recently-published titles, looseleaf updates, journal issues etc. Let me suggest they restrict it to that for the first meeting. Then, a few weeks later, flushed with enthusiasm, they will meet again and add many more “reports” to the list.

Providing this information via RSS is a no brainer, but it seems few brains are currently addressing the issue.


I agree this is a no-brainer but it seems that the Legal Publishers are slow to pick up on what seems to me an “easy win”. One of the other issues here is an environmental one, I certainly wouldn’t call myself an “eco-warrior” if that term still exists but there must be a huge benefit in not sending out publishing material in traditional formats and instead hopping on the RSS bandwagon.

by James M on 27 February 2007 at 2:19 pm. #


Yes, agreed. In my post I touch on both points:

1) You say “publishers are slow to pick up on it” – I say “few brains are currently addressing the issue” – the creative bods and suits are dreaming of and conjuring up online products with limited market appeal when an immediately effective application of RSS – desperately sought by such as you – is staring them in the face.

2) You say save the planet by not sending out traditional formats – I say “really, really time-saving for the publishers.” They’re wasting their time, our time, our bandwidth and our paper by sending out their title information in this archaic fashion.


by nickholmes on 27 February 2007 at 3:09 pm. #


Thank you for the fantastic summary of the issues! It is clear discussion such as this which is going to help us advance this idea with the publishers.


by Connie Crosby on 5 March 2007 at 4:22 am. #