Gear Up Your Research Guides with the Emerging OPML Codes:
Think about your typical Web-based research guide: It’s a list of books, articles, and selected Web sites on a given topic. Such a guide is great for introducing users to a subject and pointing them to your library’s resources on that subject. But traditional research guides aren’t so great for introducing readers to the very latest resources on their topic, or for engaging them in new online discussions of that topic. What if you could create a dynamic research guide that displays the latest headlines from selected blogs, feeds of new book and article titles from the library’s catalog and databases, and audio and video files—along with your traditional Web links and bibliographies? Even better, what if this guide could be syndicated so that people were able to subscribe to it and automatically receive updated versions in their RSS aggregators?
The emerging Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) promises these features and more, which makes it an excellent format for creating and sharing research and information guides. I am already using OPML at Azusa Pacific College in California where I am an instruction librarian and assistant professor. In this article, I’ll discuss the strengths and limitations of the OPML format, explain how it can help you create and share dynamic outlines, and walk you through the creation of your first OPML file. Don’t worry; it’s easier than you think to get geared up!