BROWARD COUNTY, FL – Broward County Libraries Division Director Kelvin Watson has been named 2019 Librarian of the Year by the Florida Library Association (FLA). This prestigious award recognizes outstanding, ongoing contributions to Florida librarianship based on exemplary leadership skills, commitment to free access to information for all Floridians, promotion of reading and the increased use of library materials, creativity and innovation.
“It is an honor to have been selected by my peers for this highly coveted award,” said Watson. “As a chief librarian and library director, my vision for Broward County Libraries is to decrease barriers and increase equitable access through technology, public outreach and the expansion of the many unique programs and services we currently offer.”
Kelvin Watson became Broward County Library Director in February 2017. He oversees almost 1,000 employees in 38 library locations. His customer-focused approach has increased Library visibility, resulting in increased attendance and dramatic online participation, garnering awards on the state and national level.
Watson has launched award-winning programs and initiatives that improve the lives of disadvantaged children and families; veterans and active-duty members of the military; people experiencing homelessness and individuals re-entering the community after incarceration. He has expanded the Library’s role as an arts provider with free community library festivals that attract thousands of visitors.
Under Watson’s leadership, Broward County Library has developed key partnerships with local businesses, government agencies and other organizations that enhance and expand library services. Watson’s joint initiatives include free streaming music services to county bus riders and park visitors; allowing students to use school ID as library cards; and providing Wi-Fi resources to veterans.
Watson is an active participant in professional associations and recently began a two-year term as a director-at-large of the Public Library Association; is the immediate past President of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; and is an elected member of the Book Industry Study Group’s Board of Directors.
Additionally, Watson is the recipient of the 2017 DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence in Librarianship and the 2016 inaugural winner of the American Library Association’s Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession. He is a regular presenter and speaker at conferences on the local, state and national level and represents Broward County Library in print, radio and television. Watson also recently completed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)’s “Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy” executive training course.
The FLA, headquartered in Tallahassee, can trace its origin back to 1901. It promotes excellence in Florida libraries by advocating strongly for libraries and providing high-quality professional and leadership development for a diverse community of library staff, volunteers, and supporters.