As the new executive director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Kelvin Watson brings innovative, award-winning leadership to Nevada’s largest library system. Mr. Watson oversees 25 branches spanning 8,000 square miles, a budget of $77 million, 700 employees, and a collection of 3.2 million items. The Library District is a vibrant and vital member of the community offering limitless learning; business and career advancement; and government and social services support. For more information, please visit LVCCLD.org.
Mr. Watson joined the Library District from his role as the director of the Broward County Libraries Division, where he managed 700+ full-time employees and a budget of more than $70 million. The Broward County library system serves 1.9 million people through 38 locations in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida region.
Regarded as one of the most highly respected thought leaders in the library industry, he is credited with expanding his customer base in past library management roles, through outreach efforts to underserved and diverse populations. His deep experience in fundraising, technology, program development, plus his demonstrated success in addressing the digital divide, will help the Library District to further expand its role as a free educational resource for all residents.
During his tenure at Broward County Libraries, Mr. Watson brought transformative change through ambitious and groundbreaking initiatives, such as streamlining access to resources, introducing new technology, and developing partnerships and new collaborative relationships with internal agencies and community groups. He was named the 2021 winner of the Margaret E. Monroe Library Adult Services Award, sponsored by NoveList, for his dedication to implementing new and innovative ways to meet customers – both existing and new – “where they are,” with initiatives targeting non-traditional library users.
Under his leadership, the Florida Library Association (FLA) named Broward County Libraries as the 2020 Library of the Year; FLA named Mr. Watson as the 2019 Librarian of the Year; and the American Library Association (ALA) named the Broward County Libraries as the Library of the Future, all of which he credits to the work of his staff. Other awards over his career have included the 2016 inaugural ALA Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession; the 2017 DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence in Librarianship; and as the 2019 Community Service & Distinguished Achievement Honoree by the Friends of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center.
Previously, he served as COO/senior vice president for Queens Borough Library in New York City, after rising through the leadership ranks of the organization from a distinguished background in technology. In his prior role as chief innovation & technology officer/vice president, information, technology, and development, he was instrumental in establishing several groundbreaking programs, and he developed and implemented digital divide strategies, which promoted equality and equity for all.
Mr. Watson started his career as a Commissioned Officer in the Active US Army and Army Reserves. He transitioned into the private sector as a leader with Ingram Library Services, Borders Group, and The Library Corporation (TLC). These positions fueled his passion for the field of library science and he went on to join the USDA National Agricultural Library.
Throughout his career, he has remained active as a speaker and panelist at conferences and an author of articles in national library publications. He serves on the San Jose State University School of Information, Leadership, and Management Program Advisory Committee and is a past president of Black Caucus of American Library Association, currently serving on the Board of Directors for its Book Industry Study Group.
Mr. Watson earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and a Minor in Military Science from Lincoln University in Missouri. He earned his Masters of Library Science Degree from North Carolina Central University. In addition, he earned a certificate from the MIT SLOAN School of Management Executive Program on “The Internet of Things: Business Implications and Opportunities, Artificial Intelligence Implications for Business Strategy and Cybersecurity.” Mr. Watson is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Additional Awards & Memberships
American Library Association (ALA) • ALA Digital Content Working Group Co-Chair 2019-2021 • ALA Business Advisory Group 2021-Present • ALA Standards for Library Services for Incarcerated and Detained Individuals/Working Group 2021-Present • ALA Committee on Accreditation 2016-2017 • Young Librarians ALA Presidential Task Force 2009-2010 • ALA Spectrum Scholar 2006 (Spectrum Scholarship Jury Member 2008-2009) • ALA Reference & User Services Association Spectrum Intern 2007-2008 • Life Member Black Caucus American Library Association (BCALA), President 2014-2016 • BCALA Immediate Past President 2016-2018 • BCALA Vice-President 2012-2014 • BCALA Executive Board Member 2006-2012 (Current BCALA Fundraising Chair, in addition 2008-2010, Budget & Finance Chair 2010-2012) • BCALA Distinguished Service Award Recipient 2015 • Public Library Association Director-at-Large 2018-2021 • SEFLIN Board of Directors 2017-Present • Book Industry Study Group Board of Directors 2018-2022 • REFORMA Member • American Indian Library Association Member • New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries 2015-2017 • Metropolitan New York Library Council Board of Trustee 2015-2017 • Chinese American Library Association Member • Life Member Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. • Kiwanis Club of Central Broward • Association of Research Libraries Initiative to Recruit Diverse Workforce Participant 2005-2007 • Asian/Pacific Librarians Association Member (Research and Travel Awards Committee 2007-2009) • American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Member & Spectrum Scholar 2007 (AASL Diversity Task Force 2008-2009) • National Conference of African American Librarians (Fundraising Chair 2007-2010, 2013, 2015-2020) • Coretta Scott King Book Award Juror 2012-2013