1 April marks the first anniversary of the launch of our Drone Airborne Fast, Frequent Order and Delivery Inter-Library Service (DAFFODILS). In these days of fake news and social media manipulation, it is refreshing to report a genuine success story.


The service has proved a real hit with time-challenged students and academics, for whom the 20-minute journey to the John Rylands Library can prove an insuperable barrier. Instead, we fly the books to them.

Inevitably, the system has experienced a few teething troubles, especially during the recent storms. However, this particular cloud certainly did have a silver lining. Following a slight mishap with a crate of Greek ostraka (pot sherds), our collection has doubled in quantity, even if they are now a little more challenging to read. Only one consignment has gone astray during the year; staff at Chetham’s Library have strenuously denied rumours that “radio inteference” caused a batch of rare seventeenth-century tracts to be diverted into the precincts of the oldest public library in the English speaking world.

In a further exciting development, we can now report that, as part of the Library’s Books Right Here Right Now initiative, we will delivery incunables (books printed before 1501) direct to academics’ offices or to students’ halls of residence. Using the Inc-Readable app, registered members of the University of Manchester will be able to order an incunable for same-day delivery. If you don’t have a garden, drive or other convenient outdoor landing spot, the app will issue a five-minute warning of delivery, enabling you to open a window or door for the drone to enter your premises and deposit the book right at your desk.*

GB on stand

Gutenberg Bible, c.1455.

Watch this space for further exciting developments from the cutting-edge of library technology.

* Please check your insurance cover: the University of Manchester shall not be liable for any broken windows or other damage to your premises.