Taking Books to the People, Pt XIII , Something to Drone on About

Christiansburg to Roanoke

In the Christiansburg Montgomery County School District  Virginia (south of Roanoke and near Virginia Tech ), middle school librarian, Kelly Passek, had been filling book requests for her students via school bus as long as the busses continued to deliver school meals.  Once the Montgomery County Schools closed last March because of COVID-19, she knew that it was important for her students to continue to read

The school bus option ended when the school year was over.  Kelly thought about the drone delivery service that her family had been using: Wing, a drone service from Google’s parent company Alphabet, delivered essentials straight to their door.

Mark Mier, the School Superintendent thought it was a good idea.

“Montgomery County Public Schools will be the first public school system in the world to use Wing to deliver library books to our students,” Passek said. “We are thrilled for this opportunity to have a really unique way to deliver resources to our students and do it practically on demand.”

  • Students request library books using an online form.
  • Passek
    • fulfills the requests,
    • provides the GPS delivery coordinates,
    • packs the books up in special delivery boxes,
    • drops them off at Wing.
  • Wing handles the drone deliveries.

The first book, Erich Maria Remarque’s World War I classic All Quiet on the Western Front, was delivered by drone on Thursday, June 15.  Now, students in Montgomery County can choose from the library’s more than 150,000 titles, and have their books delivered right to their front yard.  Students will return the books when they come back to school in the fall.

The 10-pound Wing aircraft, which carries up to three pounds, is quieter than a car or truck.  Packages are lowered about 23 feet to a person’s yard via a rope. The drone can travel more than 70 mph.