9-Year-Old Aims to Break the Record for Most Books Collected in 24 Hours

Danay Ferguson is only 9 and already trying to make a difference. She has collected thousands of books to fight...

Posted by CBS47 Fresno on Thursday, February 11, 2016

Danay Ferguson isn't your typical kid. At the young age of 9, she's already accomplished more than most adults by founding her own officially recognized nonprofit and helping to donate thousands of books to children in schools, hospitals, and low-income neighborhoods. Now Danay and the rest of her organization are preparing to break the world record for most books collected within a 24-hour window, Inhabitots reports.

Danay started her nonprofit, called Reading Heart, when she was 8 years old as a way of sharing her intense love of reading with other children in her hometown of Fresno, California. Her initial plan was to open a bookstore, but she decided to found a charity instead after realizing that some people wouldn't be able to afford books of their own. She's since collected 90,000 books with the help of family and volunteers and is currently touring over 130 local schools to speak about her cause. In between everything she has going on in her life, Danay somehow still finds time to read two to three books a day.

Reading Heart hopes to collect a record-breaking 500,000 books between March 18 and 19. The books that are donated during the drive will be distributed to the pediatric wings of local hospitals and to every elementary school student in Fresno county. If you're interested in lending a hand, Scholastic Publishing has agreed to provide four new books for every donation of $5 to Reading Heart.

Banner/header images courtesy of CBS47 Fresno via Facebook.

[h/t Inhabitots]

Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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]

How Bats Protect Rare Books at This Portuguese Library

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]


More from mental floss studios