A bookplate or ex libris (Lat. “from the library of …”) is a decorative label affixed to the inside of a book to show ownership. Many bookplates contain motifs such as coats of arms or mottoes.
My bookplate is a simple design I whipped up in AppleWorks. (I don’t have the desire to learn any newer graphics design software.) The motto is “nil volentibus arduum,” which means “nothing is arduous for the willing.” As a large portion of my library is devoted to fairly wooly subjects requiring much study, I thought this was appropriate. As far as the tree and ivy go, I just thought they would look nice.
I sent my design to a company that makes rubber stamps and they turned it into a 2x2 inch stamp for me. I marked the books in my library by stamping this in black ink somewhere on the front endpapers or in the front cover.
It should be noted that this thing is not a real “bookplate” in the strictest sense. Purists will insist that stamping degrades books somehow. However, I own these books because I intend to read them, not because they’re good financial securities. Besides, they’ll be family heirlooms one day anyway.
If this seems interesting to you, then why not design a bookplate of your own? I made mine a stamp because it was a permanent and low-cost option. However, I’m sure you could find someplace that would make stickers or paper labels for you if you were so inclined. Either way, a bookplate is a simple but classy way to cultivate your own personal library.