Will begin serving three-year term in late June 2018
BROWARD COUNTY, FL – Broward County Libraries Division Director Kelvin Watson has been elected as one of two new directors-at-large of the Public Libraries Association (PLA). His three-year term will begin immediately after the American Library Association’s 2018 Annual Conference, which takes place in New Orleans from June 21-26, 2018.
“It is an honor to have been selected by my peers to serve as one of the PLA’s directors-at-large,” says Watson. “I’m looking forward to working within the PLA to further explore ways to expand the reach of libraries in the communities they serve and to broaden access to the vast educational, technological, and recreational resources and services public libraries provide.”
Watson was named Director of Broward County Libraries Division in February 2017. Since then he has led ambitious and innovative initiatives that have made the Library a force in bridging the community’s digital divide and strengthened the Library’s connection to the communities it serves.
His initiatives include the Veterans Connect Program, which provides free portable Internet service to veterans, active-duty military, and their dependents as well as events and outreach targeted specifically to veterans; the “Your ID Is Your Key” service that makes digital library cards available to all Broward County public school students; and the launch of the GoChip, a device preloaded with a season of a premiere TV show that customers can check out. He’s also overseen the launch of the Library’s new “Reach Out, Reach Up!’ program to assist formerly incarcerated individuals in reintegrating into society by offering participants services that provide job readiness training, technology skills, literacy, and educational programs.
Additionally, Watson spearheaded partnerships that offer access to Broward County Library’s collection of free downloadable and streaming music to Broward County Transit bus riders and visitors to Broward County parks and forged a collaborative partnership with T-Mobile that provides underserved members of the community with technological access and training that increase educational and vocational opportunities. Under his leadership, the library’s collection management system has been decentralized and staff at all 38 locations are now empowered to select materials that best serve their communities.
Throughout his career he has remained active and involved in professional associations and, in addition to recent election to the PLA Board of Directors, is currently the immediate past President of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Watson is a frequent speaker and panelist at conferences and the recipient of numerous awards; including the 2017 DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence in Librarianship. He has worked tirelessly to evolve the library’s role in the community as “the inviter of the uninvited.”
Watson is one of six PLA directors-at-large serving on the PLA Board of Directors, and the first director-at-large from Broward County.
The PLA, which is headquartered in Chicago, is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders.