Managing Your Online Reading

I have a number of blogs written by other librarians that I enjoy keeping up to date with. I also have another dozen or so blogs written by book reviewers, publishers, and other interesting people that it behooves me to be aware of. These blogs (online editorials) help me remain aware of current trends and changes in libraries and publishing. However, I was wasting a lot of time each week by going to each website to read the latest entry, even if it was simply to find out that the librarian/reviewer/publisher hadn’t even written anything since the last time I had visited the website. Of course, I had heard about Feed Readers before, but it seemed like such an ordeal to set it up. Turns out, I was wrong. I switched to a Feed Reader over a year ago, and it saves me so much time. I want to share that with you. I’ll focus on the Google Reader. There are many other programs available that do the same thing as it, and some probably better, but since our library system has switched over to Google mail, I’m going to focus on the ins and outs of the Google Reader.

What is a Feed? Or a Feed Reader?

Feeds are a way for websites large and small to distribute their content well beyond just visitors using browsers. Feeds permit subscription to regular updates, delivered automatically via a web portal, news reader, or in some cases good old email. A typical interface for a feed reader will display your feeds and the number of new (unread) entries within each of those feeds. You can also organize your feeds into categories and even clip and save your favorite entries (with certain applications).

How to Access Google Reader

  1. Log in to your Google email account. Along the top of the screen in the upper right corner, there should be a short list of options; click on the one labeled More. Choose Reader from the list.
  2. Bookmark the Google Reader website on your web browser. If you log out between uses, it will prompt you to enter your username and password.
  3. Go to You will be prompted to log in with your username and password.

How to Subscribe to Feeds

If you already know the address of the feed you want to subscribe to, you can just click the Add Subscriptions link and paste the address in the text field that appears. Otherwise, you can use our directory for an easy way to find and add feeds. As a third option, you can always find your own feeds.

Google Reader will check your subscriptions for updates about once an hour. Updates may occur a bit less frequently for feeds that have few subscribers. Note that clicking the Refresh button in Google Reader does not cause it to actually check your subscriptions for new items. It simply updates your screen with any new items that Google Reader may have already collected.

Unsubscribing from a Feed

If you no longer want to see updates from one of your subscriptions, you can unsubscribe:

Click on Settings to see your subscription list.

  • Check the box next to any feed(s) from which you wish to unsubscribe.
  • Click the Unsubscribe button.

Alternatively, you can unsubscribe directly from your reading list:

  • Click on the name of a feed in the subscription list in your sidebar, so you are viewing items from that feed only.
  • From the Feed Settings… menu, select “Unsubscribe.”

About shortlibrarian

I am a woman working in the Twin Cities as a programming Librarian.
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