Keeping up to date with ejournal collections using KB+ and IFTTT

KnowledgebasePlus (KB+) is a Jisc service (which I work on) which helps (UK HE) libraries manage their e-resources more efficiently by providing accurate publication, subscription, licence and management information.

It has always been possible to keep an eye on how ejournal collections and title lists (called ‘Packages’ in KB+) are changing through the information made public by KB+ (no login required) but at the start of November we added some new features that provide an easy and flexible way to keep up to date with changes to ejournal collections using KB+. The new features are:

  • A feed which contains details of all the changes to ejournal collections being tracked in KB+
  • New public package pages listing all the titles currently in a collection/title list, with the option to export in a number of formats
  • New public ‘package history’ pages for each collection tracked in KB+ which lists the changes made to the collection/title list since it was first added to KB+

These new features are in addition to the existing public searchable list of packages in KB+, with the option to download the title lists under an open licence – meaning you can use the data from KB+ however you like.

The new ‘feed’ is an Atom feed – this works in a similar way to RSS and if you already use an RSS reader to subscribe to updates to blogs and news sites, you can add the Atom feed (https://www.kbplus.ac.uk/kbplus/publicExport/index?format=atom) to your reader to track changes in KB+.

However, the Atom feed becomes even more useful if you combine it with an online tool called ‘If this, then that’ (IFTTT) IFTTT provides a way of getting different online services to talk to each other and carry out specific actions. This is done through what IFTTT calls ‘applets’ (previously ‘recipes’). Each Applet monitors for a specific type of event, and when it detects an event carries out one or more action – so for example you can have an Applet which looks for new pictures being posted to your Instagram account, and when it sees a new picture posted, re-posts the picture to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

One of the types of event IFTTT can monitor for is ‘new item in an Atom feed’, which means you can use IFTTT together with the KB+ Atom Feed to monitor for changes to packages in KB+ and do something as a result. For example I have set up an IFTTT applet that looks for new items in the KB+ feed, and adds them to a daily digest email that is sent to me at 7am everyday.

Because IFTTT works with a very wide range of services you have a huge amount of flexibility in how you can be notified of changes to ejournal collections including:

In addition when monitoring for new items in feeds, IFTTT supports an option to filter the feed only for entries that match specific criteria. That means you can monitor for changes to specific ejournal collections, or collections from a specific publisher rather being overwhelmed by seeing information about all packages in KB+.

I particularly like the idea of linking updates from KB+ into task lists or workflow management tools but to get you started, I’m including here instructions for getting updates about ejournal collections  by email:

  1. If you don’t already have an IFTTT account you can sign up at https://ifttt.com/join
  2. Once you have signed up, login and go to “My Applets” (https://ifttt.com/my_applets)
  3. Click the “New Applet” option
  4. Click the word “+this” in the phrase “If +this then that”
  5. In the “Choose a service” box, type “Feed”, then click the Feed icon
  6. On the “Choose a Trigger” page click the option “New feed item”
    If you want to create alerts about specific packages being updated in KB+ (rather than just any update to KB+) then you can use the “New feed item matches’”option to look only for updates that contain a specific package or provider name. For example, to only get updates for Jisc Collections packages, choose the “New feed item matches” trigger and use the search phrase “Jisc Collections”.
  7. In the “Feed URL” box type the URL for the KB+ update feed https://www.kbplus.ac.uk/kbplus/publicExport?format=atom and click “Create Trigger”
  8. Click the word “+that” on the next page
  9. In the Choose Action Service box type “email” and click the “Email Digest” item that is displayed
    If you would prefer to get emails every time there is an update to a package in KB+ you can instead choose “Email” at this step – this action will send an email each time there is an update to a KB+ package (or a specific package if you used the ‘New feed item matches’ option in step 6).
  10. If you have never used an email or email digest action on IFTTT before at this point you will be asked to connect the Email Digest channel. If you see the following screen, click ‘Connect’ (otherwise, skip to step 14)
  11. You will now be asked to enter the email address you wish to use for the alert. Enter the email address and click ‘Send PIN’
  12. Check your email account for an email with the PIN (subject line “Email Digest Channel connection PIN”). Enter this PIN into the screen and click “Connect”, then click “Done”
  13. You will now be returned to the setup process – click “Continue to the next step” to continue
  14. On the Choose an Action page click “Add to daily digest”
    If you would prefer to get updates less frequently, you can choose ‘Add to weekly digest’ at this step.
  15. On the “Complete Action Fields” page you can edit the details of the email that comes through including the time it will be sent, the subject line of the email and the content of the email. You can leave the defaults unless you have any specific requirements
  16. Once you have edited the details on this page, you can click the “Create Action” button and you will be presented with a final confirmation page. Click “Finish” to create and save this recipe
  17. The recipe is now ready to use. You should receive the digest email on a daily basis at the time you specified when setting up the Applet

 

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