Wing, a drone delivery service backed by Alphabet—the parent company of tech conglomerate Google—allows customers to shop locally and receive deliveries via drone.
Now, with the recommendation of a local librarian, the company’s branch in Virginia, USA, is delivering library books to children in the Montgomery County Public School system—making the district the first in the world to offer a library book drone delivery service.
Kelly Passek, a middle-school librarian for Montgomery County Public Schools, has been one of Wing’s “most enthusiastic customers” since the service launched last year in Christiansburg, Virginia. She enjoys getting freshly baked pastries, meals and household goods delivered to her home via drone.
Once she realised just how fast and convenient the service was, she approached the company to deliver library books, as well. The COVID-19 pandemic made such a need much more obvious.
This week, Wing will start delivering books to the 600 students who live in the company’s Christiansburg delivery area.
“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,” she told The Washington Post.
Passek will also be playing a role to keep the library loan programme running on the back end. Students will send their book orders to her on a Google Form. Then, she’ll search for the books using any of the libraries throughout the school district. Once the books have been located, she’ll package them up and take them to Wing for delivery.
“I’m hoping that we get our students that are already readers and students who are thinking its going to be really excellent to get books delivered by drone,” she continued.
After students were forced to finish the school year remotely due to stay-at-home orders, Passek and other librarians in the district sent library books to students’ homes on school buses that delivered breakfast and lunch every day.
Passek has already helped students get books this spring after they were sent home from school to finish the year remotely because of stay-at-home orders. District librarians sent library books to students’ homes on school buses that made daily rounds to bring breakfast and lunch to every district student. With the school year officially ending, Wing’s drones will step in to deliver books instead.
“We pride ourselves on finding innovative ways to serve our students,” Montgomery County Public School superintendent Mark Miear said in a Wing blog post. “We are excited to continue our streak of innovation through this pilot programme that brings library books to our students via drone delivery.”
During the summer, when students cannot visit school libraries, public libraries usually provide free reading materials and summer reading programmes to encourage children to read over their break. COVID-19 has made it more difficult for families to access these resources.
The books won’t have to be returned until the summer is over.
“My mom, also an elementary school librarian, always taught me to appreciate the library and reading at a young age,” said Wing’s Virginia site lead Keith Heyde. “Our system is designed to deliver small packages directly to homes through the air. We’ve always believed that the communities we serve would tell us what they need us to put in those packages, and this is a great example of that.”