RUSA named Kelvin Watson for 2022 Best Emerging Technology Application (BETA) Award

Executive Director Kelvin Watson lauded for 'commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives' for unique partnership with regional bus system

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Honored for 'Best Emerging Technology Application'

Image: Kelvin Watson, executive director, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District (PRNewsfoto/Las Vegas-Clark County Library District)

LAS VEGAS, March 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has named Kelvin Watson, executive director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District as recipient of its "2022 Best Emerging Technology Application (BETA) Award," which recognizes the use of an existing technology application that directly benefits library users.

In remarks accompanying the award, the RUSA selection committee said that they selected Watson's "Bringing the Library to Transit Riders" program for "exceeding our expectations" in applying existing technologies in novel ways that benefit the library and its customers. The BETA recognition represents the third award in 2022 for this groundbreaking library outreach initiative, following the American Library Association's "Library of the Future Award," and the Urban Libraries Council's "Top Innovators Honorable Mention."

"Bringing the Library to Transit Riders" is a unique partnership between the Library District and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), which enables transit riders to instantly sign up for access to library materials online using the RTC's free onboard WiFi. The program is available city-wide on the RTC's 400 transit buses, which serve the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Riders simply scan a QR code, featured inside the buses, to download the Library District's Libby app. The system then walks these new library customers through the sign up process using their mobile number, instantly verifying their new account. Riders can then immediately begin borrowing eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines, and movies at no cost, on the bus, at home, or anywhere on the go. The program also allows temporary library access to transit riders who are visitors to Las Vegas via a seven-day pass to the Libby app.

"(This program) shows a great commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives," stated the BETA selection committee, "most notably providing resources in multiple languages and removing barriers to access by ensuring that the landing page is accessible and compatible with assistive technologies. We were particularly impressed by the statistics you included, with 7,013 apps downloaded, 40,995 checkouts, 3,893 page views, and 1,938 users between September 2021 and your submission in January 2022.

"This project has not only had a great impact on your local population and its visitors, but also sets a precedent for other major cities with active public transportation systems to partner with libraries and poses the potential for partnerships with other public spaces," the awards committee noted. "You have effectively pulled together vendor technologies, QR code technology, users' personal technologies, advertisement, and a city-wide initiative to have a valuable impact on your users."

Information access, discovery, and delivery are at the heart of 21st century libraries and have been the core of Kelvin Watson's career. At each of the library systems that he has led, he has implemented a mobile-first, user-centered approach to delivering library content and services, to those we serve, beyond our buildings. This means providing easy access to the library's collections (both physical and digital) in places like parks, prisons, and hospitals, and to those without internet access.

Regarded as one of the most highly respected thought leaders in the library industry, Kelvin Watson is credited with expanding his customer base in multiple library management roles, through outreach efforts to underserved and diverse populations. He brought transformative change to the communities in which he has served through ambitious and groundbreaking initiatives, such as streamlining access to resources, introducing new technology, and developing new collaborative partnerships. He was named the 2021 winner of the RUSA 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.

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 3.2 million items consisting of books, movies, music (including streaming and downloadable), online resources, as well as free programs for all ages. 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

About the RTC
The RTC is the transit authority, designated metropolitan planning organization, regional traffic management agency and administrator of the Southern Nevada Strong comprehensive regional plan for the Las Vegas valley. The RTC's vision is to provide a safe, convenient and effective regional transportation system that enhances mobility and air quality for citizens and visitors. The RTC encourages residents and visitors to use a variety of transportation choices to help reduce traffic congestion, clean the air and improve the quality of life in Southern Nevada. For more information about the RTC and its major initiatives or to download its transit app rideRTC, visit and stay informed by subscribing to our blog.