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A Free Library Made Out of Books Could Be Coming to the Bay Area

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Lovers of old-book-smell are in for a treat: The good people at the new Bay Area Book Festival have plans to make a library with walls made of books. 

The festival received over 50,000 books from the Internet Archive last year, and is hoping to make something substantial with them. With the help of FLUX Foundation, they plan to convert the tomes into plaza-like space. The project has been dubbed Lacuna and will hopefully be unveiled this June during the festival at MLK Civic Center Park. The whole thing will cost about $10,000, so they are looking for help with a Kickstarter. 

They explain the appeal of a library made of books on the site: 

Unlike a library, the very walls of Lacuna are created from books, which means that when people remove a book from a shelf, the structure will change and morph as new gaps in the book brickwork are exposed.  This is where the magic of Lacuna happens: Lacuna becomes a reflection of the community who interacts with it. 

Visitors are welcome to take their books home with them, so the structure will change drastically as people interact with it. The creators hope that installation will get readers excited and provide another layer of interactions with the books. 

The building will be round and roughly 8 feet in diameter. The fountain at the center of the park will be used as a foundation and benches will be built around it for convenient sitting space. The walls will be separated into 12 alcoves, each made of around 3500 books. For the ceiling, guy-wires lined with pages from books will meet at the top. When visitors enter the space, they will presumably feel like they’re wedged in the pages of a book.

[h/t: CityLab.com]

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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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How Bats Protect Rare Books at This Portuguese Library
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Visit the Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Portugal at night and you might think the building has a bat problem. It's true that common pipistrelle bats live there, occupying the space behind the bookshelves by day and swooping beneath the arched ceilings and in and out of windows once the sun goes down, but they're not a problem. As Smithsonian reports, the bats play a vital role in preserving the institution's manuscripts, so librarians are in no hurry to get rid of them.

The bats that live in the library don't damage the books and, because they're nocturnal, they usually don't bother the human guests. The much bigger danger to the collection is the insect population. Many bug species are known to gnaw on paper, which could be disastrous for the library's rare items that date from before the 19th century. The bats act as a natural form of pest control: At night, they feast on the insects that would otherwise feast on library books.

The Joanina Library is famous for being one of the most architecturally stunning libraries on earth. It was constructed before 1725, but when exactly the bats arrived is unknown. Librarians can say for sure they've been flapping around the halls since at least the 1800s.

Though bats have no reason to go after the materials, there is one threat they pose to the interior: falling feces. Librarians protect against this by covering their 18th-century tables with fabric made from animal skin at night and cleaning the floors of guano every morning.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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