Week 2 – Google Reader

NOTE: By now you have probably heard the news that Google Reader is being shut down in July.  We’ve decided to leave this week’s module as-is because the basics of using an RSS-aggregator are still useful.  However, we’ve added a bonus activity at the end, and encourage you to explore alternatives to Google Reader for the future.  Let us know in the comments on this page or in your personal blog postings this week if you have found an alternative site that you like.  We would love to know about it!

What is Google Reader and what are RSS feeds?

  • Google Reader screenshotUse Google Reader to keep up with websites that have frequent updates, e.g. blogs.
  • Google Reader uses stuff called RSS feeds – found on loads of websites.

If you see this symbol, you can add the site to your feed reader automatically: Orange RSS feed button
You can also add sites that do not have the orange RSS button.

Why bother?

  • Efficiency: you only have to check one place
  • Remember sites of interest to you
  • Basically, you’re personalizing the internet

Other possible uses of RSS in libraries

  • Create an RSS feed for new additions to the catalog
  • Use feeds from publishers for new editions
  • Create an RSS feed for events and news posted on the library website

Set up Google Reader and follow some blogs

  • Add some feeds, trying both these methods:
    • Subscribe button
    • Go to a blog & click the orange RSS button. 

You will need a Google account in order to get started.  Here is a PDF with step-by-step instructions, or you can watch the video below if you prefer:

Bonus Activity

Explore some alternatives to Google Reader. Try this article to start, or let us know about some other sites that you have found on your own.  Set up an account and add some blogs.  Let us know how it goes!  Some ideas we’ve come across:

  • Feedly (this site promises a seamless transition from Google Reader, and even lets you log in with your Google account)
  • The Old Reader
  • Netvibes

Blog post

Don’t forget to write about your experience with Google Reader (frustrations, epiphanies, or indifference!) on your personal blog.

This Learning 2.0 module was designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens’ Transformative Literacies class in the Spring of 2013. This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was authored and adapted by Cory Laurence with the Public Library Group for East Greenbush Library. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions. Special thanks to Helen Westwood for her work from which this module has been adapted.


8 thoughts on “Week 2 – Google Reader”

    1. Hi,
      Glad you enjoyed using Google Reader. It is indeed sad to see Google Reader go. Let us hope that Google changes its mind. But until that happens there are some alternatives that we have included in the module that you can take a look at.
      Vaishali (Connect 2U Team)

  1. So maybe i’m the only person not really familiar with google reader or the impact of it being shut down this summer? in any event i’m wondering how anybody can have enough time to read all the blogs that were supposed to be compiled in google reader! if i ever stop having 2 jobs maybe i can access something like this, haha!

    1. For me the key is to be choosy. I too work 2 jobs and I’m working on my MLIS full time. So keeping up with these learning networks is hard, I COMPLETELY understand. These tools, these RSS feeds, make it doable though. Google Reader was just so accessible, easy to use, easy to compile bundles, etc. It was great for busy individuals. This doesn’t mean you need to subscribe to everything. I made this mistake when I jumped head first into my MLIS degree and was presented with myriad opportunities for further learning through different shared blogs, twitter feeds, etc. I subscribed to everything, got overloaded and shut down that whole learning avenue. I remember I was coming up with research topics from reading other blog posts from libraries, and then when I got overwhelmed that collaborative thinking/learning shut down. So being choosy helps. Unsubscribe to all of them if need be and just find some that you can relate to and find interesting and keep up with them. Maybe start with just 1 blog you find interesting and useful. On my lunch breaks I’ll just scroll through some of the new ideas presented from my RSS feed while munching away. It keeps you connected and facilitates this collaborative learning process 🙂

      Danielle (Connect 2.U Team)

  2. Having problems with Google Reader.Probably because I am basically “computer illiterate”.I am also unable to put a background on my blog page although I have tried several times ~kimelia

    1. I’m sorry to hear you are having problems with Google Reader. Can you give us more information so we can better help you figure out what’s going on? As for the background for your blog, you can go to your dashboard, click on appearance, and then you can click on background. From here you can upload the background that you want. I hope that’s helpful. Let us know if you have more questions. Thanks for joining us for Week 2. -Perlita (Connect 2 u team)

  3. Have you tried going to http://www.google.com/reader/view/ ? You should be able to log in there and see your Google Reader account. If this does not work, post another comment or send us an email (Connect2.U2013@gmail.com), and we will figure out what is going on. I’m sorry you’re having trouble, but don’t give up! If you got as far as setting it up, you are doing great.

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