Netvibes

We have been using the free web service Netvibes to set up some pages for the subjects we support (e.g. our Business & Economics Netvibes hub).

We think Netvibes is a great way to bring together a lot of information – the site markets itself as a “personal dashboard” and it is very easy to build a useful site for current awareness of your subject (or hobbies) using RSS feeds. If you need an introduction to RSS, there is an excellent short video by Commoncraft.

Netvibes is very quick to get up and running – you just need an email address to register, then you can create your own personal Netvibes site (you need to be logged in to view it) or a public one (which can be viewed without being logged in – all our Netvibes sites are public). You can only have one public site per Netvibes account. You can switch between your private and public sites using the Dashboard:

Screenshot showing the dashboard option

You add content to your site by clicking on the green cross in the top left corner “Add Content”:

Screenshot of where to add content on Netvibes

There are many different “widgets” to choose from but the ones we found most useful are:

  • Link module: displays a thumbnail of a website and a link to that site
  • Web page: displays a working web page in a box. The usefulness of this depends on how much you have to scroll around.
  • Webnote: add text to your page.
  • HTML: useful if you are cut and pasting code from another site to embed a feature e.g. a video or map.

The best use of Netvibes is as a dashboard for a multitude of RSS feeds (e.g. our Journals tab). To set this up, use the “Add a Feed” option:

Screenshot of where to add an RSS feed

Feeds for journals are usually available on the journal home page or explore via services such as http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/. You can also follow relevant blogs or news services (the BBC and the Guardian have many useful RSS feeds). Keep an eye out for library training sessions on keeping up to date with RSS and alerting services.

As with all free web services, there is always the possibility that Netvibes may suddenly cease to exist or start to charge for use. However, Netvibes is a well-used and reputable site so hopefully this is an unlikely scenario!

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