To coincide with the naming of the Davis Family Library and to honor Jim Davis and his family, the Office of College Advancement commissioned a new bookplate for the library. Bookplates have been used for centuries to indicate ownership of a book. The Latin phrase “ex libris” or “book of” is traditionally used, and the design of a bookplate often conveys information about the owner of a book, whether that owner is an individual or an institution. The Middlebury College Library has had a variety of bookplates over the years and each branch library has its own bookplate.
Selecting an artist to create a small work of art that conveys specific information yet is interesting to look at, is a unique challenge. LIS provided Pamela Fogg, Design Director in the Office of Communications, with an historical overview of the bookplates that have been used over the years and she researched potential artists.
Artist Antar Dayal was selected because he works in detailed line drawing and often uses allegorical themes that translated well to a bookplate design. When he received the commission from Middlebury College in the Spring of 2009, Dayal was temporarily living in Hawaii because a wildfire had destroyed his studio and home in California. His website www.dayalstudio.com features a blog and portfolio.
Library staff shared some ideas with the artist about what design elements might be included in the bookplate. One of the library’s most distinctive architectural features is its shape, and Dayal referenced the shape of the building in the shape of the frame around the image. One of the things people seem to enjoy most about being in the library is the view from the inside looking out to the verdant surroundings, and Dayal captured that feeling by drawing a book, as if held in one’s lap, with foliage beyond.
The new bookplate has been used in books being added to the library collections since the day of the library naming ceremony last spring.