Google’s Wing will start delivering books for students during the summer.
Social distancing means many libraries have remained closed, much to the dismay of parents who have school-aged children in need of some summer reading time. Libraries commonly have summer-long programs so students can check out books and keep up with their peers even after school lets out. This is why a Viriginia-based librarian’s idea is a welcomed one for the whole community.
Kelly Passek, a middle school librarian in Virginia’s Montgomery County School District, has come up with a way to make sure kids keep reading despite the disruption of the novel coronavirus. She has signed up to be an early adopter of the Wing drone delivery service, using it as an alternative way to ensure books are delivered to those who need them. In her hometown of Christansburg, these drones are typically used to deliver much-needed household products, including food.
“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,” Kelly said.
Wing, which became the first drone delivery company to receive an Air operator’s certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration to allow it to operate as an airline in the United States, was developed by Google and has been delivering packages weighing up to three pounds in Virginia since 2019. With the convenience of home delivery the drone offers, it only makes sense to expand its operations to other sectors during the pandemic, including providing goods for social and educational support.
Keith Heyede, Wing’s head of Virginia operations, is in love with the idea, noting his mother also a librarian. He announced the company will “start delivering books to students in the Montgomery County School District who live within the Christiansburg delivery area” this month. This means, the service will be available to nearly 600 students, many of whom rely on the library for summer support. As far as managing returns, patrons will be able to hold on to their materials until the fall.
“I’m hoping that we get our students that are already readers and students who are thinking it’s going to be really excellent to get books delivered by drone,” Passek said.
“We’ve made more than 1,000 deliveries in the last two weeks across all our communities,” Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess said of current operations. “While we recognize that this service will be a small relief during this time, we hope it means one less trip to the store for items our customers may need, and provides an efficient way for local businesses to reach their customers in a time when limiting human-to-human contact is important.”
Drone delivery allows residents to buy essential items without leaving their house or putting mail delivery service works at increased risk of developing COVID-19. Each package is lowered to the recipient on a tether, dropped off at a home the same as traditional delivery. In Virginia, the Wing is already being used to deliver orders made via FedEx and by Walgreens, among other retailers.