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Kelvin Watson Wins Margaret E. Monroe Award for Innovative Leadership

Creating a future of equity, diversity, and inclusion through innovation and technology

The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is proud to welcome Kelvin Watson as our new Executive Director! Kelvin believes in the transformative power of libraries for the diverse communities that they serve, and this is the vision that he brings to our 25 branches across Southern Nevada.

Who might imagine creating a library in the midst of a busy, major airport hub or in local parks; using Amazon Echo devices to welcome immigrants and help them learn English in their native language; pairing those who are re-entering the community after incarceration with a librarian-mentor to help them secure employment and educational opportunities; and incorporating pop-up libraries into coffee shops, healthcare facilities, and city buildings?

Kelvin imagined, and brought to reality, these and many other unique ideas during his tenure as director of Broward County Libraries in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It was his revolutionary thinking that led to him being named the 2021 winner of the Margaret E. Monroe Award for Adult Library Services, which recognizes those who have made major contributions to services for adults through exceptional leadership, creative and innovative concepts, measurable effectiveness, and an influence on the industry as a whole. The award illuminates the new vision that he brings to Nevada’s largest library system, and the goals that he will pursue.

“The library has always represented a community gathering place, and we remain that in spite of the challenges the pandemic has presented,” he said. “But we are so much more than a physical space or books on shelves. The library is a state of mind, a hologram of possibilities, and a key community influencer.”

“What drew me to this profession,” he explained, “was my unwavering belief that libraries can create a future of equity, diversity and inclusion through technology and innovation. I am honored to be leading the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District into that future.”

Kelvin has held numerous leadership positions, both on the job and in professional organizations. He has served as the Broward County Libraries Director since February 2017 until February 2021, when he joined the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

Prior to Broward County Libraries, he served as chief operating officer for Queens Library in New York City and previously held positions at the National Agricultural Library, The Library Corporation, Ingram Library Services, Borders Group, Inc., and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Throughout his career, Kelvin has freely shared his knowledge and expertise with his colleagues as a frequent speaker and panelist at conferences. In May 2020, he published an opinion/editorial in Library Journal on the topic of “Addressing eContent Issues in Times of Crisis,” and he wrote the forward for the new book “Understanding & Navigating Discrimination in America” by Jamie Maniloff. 

He has remained active in professional associations, most recently as a member of the San Jose State University School of Information, Leadership and Management Program Advisory Committee. He is also a past president of Black Caucus of American Library Association (ALA) and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Book Industry Study Group; is a member of the Public Library Association (PLA) Board of Directors; and serves on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Florida Library Information Network.

Additionally, he was the 2016 inaugural winner of the ALA Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession; the recipient of the 2017 DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence in Librarianship; and was named 2019 Librarian of the Year by the Florida Library Association.

Kelvin started his career as a Commissioned Officer in the Active US Army and Army Reserves. For his full biography, please go to LVCCLD.org/executivedirector. To view media coverage on Kelvin's arrival click here and here.


About Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

The award-winning Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is an independent taxing entity that serves a diverse community across 8,000 square miles. Through its 25 branches and website, the Library District offers a collection of 3.1 million items consisting of books, movies, music (including streaming and downloadable), and online resources. The Library District is a vibrant and vital member of the community offering limitless learning; business and career advancement; government and social services support; and best of all, a place where customers find a sense of culture and community. For more information, please visit LVCCLD.org.

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