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Checkout a Drone from the Library?

A great novel for your beach weekend, a few good biographies to pass the time during a commute, the latest thriller in your favorite series, stacks of books to keep kids busy during the summer...these are some of the items you might head to the local library to borrow. If you look around, however, you might find that your library has made some changes. So many libraries are striving to keep up with all of the latest developments, and in addition to "books on tape", media centers where you can borrow a Kindle or e-reader, and online offerings of all kinds, some libraries have developed "makerspaces".

What on earth are makerspaces? The American Library Association has this to say: "Defining a makerspace can be somewhat difficult due to the differences among spaces and activities, but the emphasis is on creating with technology." Thus, you might be surprised to find a 3D printer or some digital production tech available at the library. If you are a student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, you might even get your hands on a drone when you pay a visit to the library's makerspace.

Students and Helicam Opportunities

Why would a drone be a useful tool for college learning? The university is wise to point out that it isn't only the creative arts students that might benefit from them but also environmental science students, architecture students, and engineering majors among many others. Of course, there is also the simple reality that quadcopter and octocopter expertise, as well as skills with the devices and the technologies used on board (including helicam gear), is shaping up to be a career maker in its own right.

Today you can see many ways that a flying camera can be put to use - ranging from the real estate market to motion picture production - and this points to the need for flying camera experts. A helicam and drone are two parts of a system - the multi-rotor flying device is partnered up with a lightweight camera, and it requires a lot of experience to be able to use both to optimal effect.

It might be easy to mistake a drone for a toy, but it does take a lot of skill and know-how in order to use them successfully, and having access to a drone and helicam is invaluable to a whole array of students.

The need for helicam experts is already strong in places like Hollywood and anywhere TV and movie productions occur. However, there are also photographic companies, farming and ranching firms, environmental groups, and a long list of other industries that rely on quality helicam footage. This translates to one obvious thing: flying camera experts will be growing in demand over time.

The Pilot Pilot Program?

In this way, the drone lending opportunity available to students in  Florida is a sort of "pilot" pilot program. It allows the students to get used to piloting a quadcopter with a helicam mounted to the apparatus (two separate but very valuable skills). It also has some very firm requirements before a student is given access to the aerial filming gear:

"Students will need to enroll in a training course before they can check out the equipment. They'll also be required to provide an explanation on how the drone will be utilized in a school project, and they must be supervised by a faculty member while operating it..." (Farrier, 2014)

This is a remarkable "win-win" situation for everyone involved. The campus provides a serious learning tool for a huge number of students, and the students get to refine their helicam and drone skills. This provides them with the opportunity to become flying camera experts long before graduation day arrives, and gives them an automatic "in" with almost any industry in need of aerial filming experts or helicam pros.

Works Cited

Bagley, Caitlin. What is a Makerspace? Creativity in the Library. ALA Tech Source. 2012.

Farrier, John. A Library in Florida Will Let You Check Out an Aerial Drone. Neatorama. 2014.!2vIzL

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