Bookmarks, Favorites, and Lists: A Question of Names

March 01, 2012

At the University of Michigan library, we are working on such a tool to integrate four separate tools (one for each of these kinds of resource: databases, online journals, library catalog records, and article citations). But what should we call such a tool, one that is designed to allow site visitors to save resources into their account for later access?

Several weeks ago, I sent a link to a quick poll to a couple of listservs looking for information about what libraries have chosen to name their "save this for later" or "favorite" tool on the site. I received 12 responses (actually, 13; two people responded independently on behalf of Northwestern University's version of the tool; I consolidated their responses into one). The following table summarizes the information we received.

% Name Number Satisfied Notes
23.1% Bookmarks 3 3
15.4% My Favorites 2 2 Drexel's implementation
7.7% Book Bag 1 1
7.7% Cart 1 0 Makes me feel I'm buying something on our catalog
7.7% GalterLists 1 1 Northwestern University's implementation
7.7% My Library 1 1 "My Library" encompasses a bunch of stuff including "Saved Databases," "Saved Journals" and "Saved Citations" plus all the recommendations we make for the three categories.
7.7% My List 1 0 Its function is not as clear as I'd like, but fit within the space constraints of the tab and was the most self-explanatory of the options we looked at.
7.7% Other 1 1 Had 'favorourites' but it confused patrons (mixed up with IE's bookmarks)
7.7% Save for Later 1 1
7.7% Shelves & Lists 1 1 Shelves are public; lists are private. Boston Public Library's implementation

"Bookmarks" and "My Favorites" were the most common answers (5 out of 13 responses), and were the only names that garnered more than one response. Three respondents had some flavor of "list" (GalterLists, My List, and Shelves & Lists).

Most respondents reported being satisfied with the name they selected.

So what are we going to name our implementation? We're leaning toward keeping the same name as we have now, "Favorites," despite a small amount of discomfort with the idea that a scholarly article or a book is really a "favorite" resource, when it is simply being saved for future use. It's not perfect, but its function seems to be broadly understandable to users who favorite things on various web sites all the time, from Tweets to URLs in Internet Explorer.

Posted by Ken Varnum at 10:59 AM. Permalink

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