Book cover ballgown on display at Eastport library

A patron visiting the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library this week can't help but notice the unusual display in the center of the main room.

It's a bookworm's dream.


Situated next to an artsy arrangement of fashion-related tomes is a vintage dressmaker's mannequin wearing a glamorous, rainbow-colored, strapless ballgown. Closer examination reveals the outer shell of the gown is composed entirely of children's book covers.

Library associate Elaine Saba, a 1981 Annapolis High School graduate, crafted the haute-looking dress. She has been with the library for 12 years, the past three years as a full-time associate.


"I saw a similar dress made of romance novel covers on while researching an idea for a different display and thought 'Hey, why not?'"

Saba, the mother of two teens, is involved in planning and handling the library branch's children's programs and was aware of a stockpile of children's book covers at the Anne Arundel County's library headquarters.

"All the paper covers are removed from books now when they come into the system. They are not covered with protective plastic covers anymore," said Saba. "I knew about the boxes of children's book covers stored at headquarters. I thought it would be a fun way to observe the American Library Association's National Library Week, which is April 9 through 15."

A friend loaned her the antique dress form which she draped with black fabric.

While trying to figure out how to make a full-skirted ballgown, Saba and her boss both received big shipments from The boxes were stuffed with lots of crisp brown wrapping paper. Smoothed out, the stiff, thick paper formed the underskirt. Saba set to work crafting the outer part of the garment using a variety of book covers from ageless classics to those hot-off-the-press. "Malala" is positioned not far from "Curious George," "Ramadan Moon" and "Madeline."

The back cover of "Malala" was put to good use, too. Instead of clasping a rhinestone necklace on the dress form, Saba folded over a dozen, small, glossy fan-like circles and used them, instead, as a necklace and trim on the dress bodice and waistline. A silver paper label, used to designate books whose illustrators have earned a Cadelcott Medal — the Oscars for illustrators — was placed on the bust as a literary brooch.

For a finishing touch, Saba used a tool every librarian possesses — a hole puncher. She borrowed one that makes a shape suggestive of flowers to "embroider" the edges of the outer skirt.

The bookish dress will remain on display through April.