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Alert Services - A How to Guide: Introduction

Many of the databases that the Limestone University Library subscribe to offer alert services. An alert is an email or RSS notification that the database can automatically send to you when new items are added to the database that match your specific searc


Web Services Librarian

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Janet Ward, MLIS
Limestone University Library
1115 College Drive
Gaffney, SC 29340
Office: 864-488-8351 Cell: 864-492-5306

Automatically collecting information using an alert

Alerts are current awareness tools.

They automatically notify you, by email or RSS feed, when new information is released online.

Most databases, websites, search engines, journals or journal aggregators, library catalogs or publishers’ catalogs provide alert services to which you can subscribe.

An alert can be created for an author, a journal’s table of contents (ToC), a topic, key words, an organization, the name of a company and in fact for any field that can be queried within an information system. 

Examples of databases that provide an alert service:

Necessary precautions

An alert can generate noise as notification is systematic.

Various methods can be used to reduce this noise:

  • Combining several key words in the query.
  • Using less common or more specific terms.
  • Selecting a dedicated search tool rather than a wide-ranging one. For example, you can choose to use one of the databases to which your organisation has subscribed, or choose the Google Scholar search engine rather than Google.

For email alerts, you may want to use your email client’s filter system to sort messages into dedicated folders according to their sources.

If you are experiencing problems with our guides and databases, please contact ProfessorJanet S. Ward,, Assistant Director of the Library and Web Services Librarian.