Really Simply Syndication (RSS) is a standard web format that allows you to subscribe to web content when new content is available. RSS allows content to come to you, rather than you visiting a particular web site. There are many research-related web sites that provide an RSS feed to their content, such as professional organization sites, publisher sites, newspapers, library sites, and blogs. RSS feeds can include text-based information as well as podcasts (for example, lectures) and vodcasts (for example, YouTube videos).
In order to read RSS feeds, you need an RSS feed reader or aggregator that manages your subscriptions. Many recent web-browsers like Safari, FireFox, and Internet Explorer have built-in RSS aggregators. Google provides an aggregrator (Google Reader); Microsoft Outlook allows you to integrate RSS feeds into your email account.
The University Library has a few RSS feeds of possible interest to you, such as recently added books (added to the Mirlyn catalog to be specific). To discover the exact web address for your feed of new books, go to the Library’s New Books web page, found at http://www.lib.umich.edu/newbooks. On that form, select the category or subcategories that interest you.
When the page displays your results, you’ll see an RSS icon, indicating that there is an RSS feed available for that particular search.
Click on the orange icon  to get the RSS format of the web address. Copy the web address and go to your RSS feed reader to follow the steps for subscribing to a feed.
Mirlyn can't alert you when new items are added to the catalog, but you can set up an RSS feed for a particular search in Mirlyn. Run your search, being very precise in your terms and limit parameters. At the bottom of your search results lists, click on the Get Feed link to get the appropriate web address for your search feed.
Subscribe to this feed with your RSS feed reader.
You can often get notifications of a journal's Table of Contents by subscribing to its RSS feed. In addition, many databases offer an option to set up an RSS alert for saved searches.
Check out your professional organization's web site for RSS feeds. Many scholarly organizations are making news or conference information available via RSS. For example, the American Historical Association maintains a blog that includes an RSS feed.
Many more government agencies are providing RSS feeds to frequently updated or changing content. (As an example, see the National Institute of Mental Health RSS feed.) A good web site to visit for discovering government-related RSS feeds is the U.S. Government RSS Library.
All news web sites, such as CNN, provide RSS feeds for rapidly changing content posted to their sites.