After I emailed her back telling her that I was less interested in doing what she was describing and more interested in making my own batts and whatnot, she responded back to me that I would break a drum carder, that they produce "homogenized results' and that I need to stick with hand carding. I think the point ended up being less 'You're new and should stick with the basics' and more 'Don't even think about drum carders because you can't handle it', which is what I found discouraging.
That's unfortunate that you got that response. Some people are such sticklers to the "rules" that they forget that some of us learn more when we actually have fun and can be creative. True, maybe the renting of her drum carders may not be possible, but that shouldn't stop you from discovering the highs and lows of drum carding.
I borrowed a set of hand cards from a neighbor for a few months before buying a Strauch Petite that someone on Ravelry was destashing. I had only drum carded once before that, at a novelty spinning class held at the teacher's house and I got to watch people drum card and got to card (or throw the fiber in while someone turned the crank) my own novelty batt. I use it a lot!
Our spinning guild rents the drum carder and some months it ends up with the same person because no one is in line for the following month. Check to see if your local guilds have websites or yahoo groups, too, where you get notices or updates about the upcoming meetings.