An ex libris is a bookplate (a decorative label) that is attached onto the inside of a book’s cover to identify the owner of a book. The name comes from the Latin words ex libris, which mean literally ‘from the books’. An expansion of the meaning is also ‘from among the books’, i.e. ‘from the library of’. The orthodox way to attach the label is on the inside of the front cover, in the upper left corner, but this rule is no longer strict. The exlibris bookplate is used to decorate the book and can be attached to the upper right corner so that it is not hidden behind the book’s dust jacket.
Until late in the 20th century, ex libris bookplates were printed in printing houses. They were small works of art made by well-known artists. As computers and computer programs evolved, people started to manufacture their own bookplates using desktop printers. Anyone could be an artist.
Turku University Library’s own bookplate is designed by artist Eric O. W. Ehrström in the year 1923. The writing says “Ex libris T.S.Y.K.”, where T.S.Y.K. stands for Turun Suomalaisen Yliopistoseuran Kirjasto (the Library of the Finnish-language University Association in Turku). The bookplate also contains the logo of the university, which consists of a torch with wings. The "Winged Torch" logo was also designed by Eric Ehrström.
The collection consists of donations and legal deposits. The collection reflects the development of bookplates in an interesting way, because the bookplates printed in Finnish printing houses have been received as legal deposit copies, while the legal deposit legislation does not extend to bookplates made with a printer. Therefore, the library receives few bookplates these days and the collection has a clear emphasis on the 20th century.
Part of the collection is in alphabetical order and part, for the moment, is unorganized. The collection can be divided into three parts: 1) a collection organized by the Turku University Library in the 1960s, 2) the donated collection of Rafael Helanko, 3) the unorganized collection.
The first ex libris from the left: The ex libris of Armas Ruotsalainen, Doctor of Medicine and Surgery, Helsinki. Artist:
F. G. Ålander, 1907. The ex libris was donated to the library by A. Nikola, 1960. The ex libris depicts a sheet of paper, a feather pen and a bottle of ink, as well as a small statuette of a human shape.
Second from left: ex libris Matti Schreck, Vice-Judge, Helsinki. Artist: Tyyne Salovaara, 1919. The ex libris was donated to the library by: Taipale, 1949. The ex libris depicts a sword in front of two books with the text Carpe diem.
Third from left: Architect Bertel Jung, Mrs. Gundborg Jung, drawn by Bertel Jung (1872-1946) in 1913. In the centre of the ex libris there is a picture of a flowerpot with five flowers in it.