8 Ways to Label Your Bookshelves

My mom is in the middle of a big project: organizing her bookshelves. She wants to label the shelves with general sections (poetry, fiction, reference), but she doesn't want to use a basic label-maker. She's going for the distinguished library look—"brass tags or something like that" she told me—but she's been having trouble finding what she wants. For you, mom, here's a list of 8 options found while scouring the web...


  1. We found a website called Woodworking Parts that sells brass and nickel-plated label holders, specifically sized for shelf edges (about $8 for 10). Rockler also sells them for $3.39 per set of 2.
  2. You can order custom-engraved or blank metal tags in a variety of sizes from MetalTags.com, a manufacturing company based in Houston, Texas. We called to see if they take retail orders, and they told us that they do, but they require a minimum amount of $50. You could also try your local hardware store for custom-engraved tags.
  3. Library supply stores are a good place to look. Demco sells clip-on, adhesive, and magnetic shelf labels. Levenger also sells sets of 6 clip-on labels for $28.
  4. Use chalkboard paint to make your own chalkboard labels, or try out these blackboard vinyl stickers from Etsy ($18 for a set of 16).
  5. Repurpose write-on metal, ceramic, or slate garden markers into shelf labels by adding removable adhesive backing.
  6. Cut up adhesive-backed cork sheets into the appropriate size, and stencil or stamp your tags directly onto the cork. It creates a rustic, wine-cellar-style look.
  7. Another way to dress up DIY labels is to stamp or stencil your tags onto Scotch paper tape.
  8. The Container Store sells plastic shelf labels (about $6 for 4), as well as magnetic erasable labels for metal shelves ($11 for 5).

Other ideas? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Selected Works Bookstore by Janel Laban

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