A Librarian Set Up a Drone Service to Drop Library Books So Kids Can Keep Reading
A Virginia school district has partnered with Google’s Wing service to distribute reading material.
If there's one thing that all bibliophiles can agree on, it's the power of bibliotherapy. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools and public libraries across the United States. And since e-readers like the Kindle can be pricey for some students, the situation has made it difficult for kids to have free access to reading material.
Kelly Passek, a librarian at Blacksburg Middle School in Virginia, thought of an ingenious way to keep kids reading, free of charge. The books will be delivered straight to their doors, and her delivery method blows USPS out of the water. Launched by a Google spinoff company called Wing, a fleet of drones (yes, drones!) will be flying library books to kids stuck at home.
The Montgomery County school system is located in Christiansburg, where the Google drone delivery division first launched its services last October. Passek initially got the idea after receiving groceries in the mail through Wing's drone delivery service. Although the commercial service was intended to deliver fresh food, medicine, and household items, Passek petitioned the company to add library books to its repertoire.
"My mom's a librarian, so reading has been very important for me personally," Wing's Virginia head of operations Keith Heyde told Jen Cardone of local broadcast station WDBJ7. "If we can provide a little bit of extra access during the summer and challenges during COVID-19, that's a win."
Wing's yellow-and-white delivery drone blends elements of airplanes and quadcopters, according to its website. The 10-pound drones travel at a speed of more than 70 miles per hour and can carry packages weighing up to three pounds. When a drone reaches its destination, it will deliver the books by hovering about 23 feet in the air and lowering the package down on a cable.
However, Passek is doing most of the heavy lifting. She takes students' book orders through a Google Form, picks them up from district libraries, packages them, and brings them directly to Wing's delivery center.
The students will have ample time to enjoy their books, as they won't be due back until school starts in the fall (no late fees here). Passek told the Washington Post that she hopes the novelty of drone delivery will help get a few more kids excited about reading: "I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone."