Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Recognized for Groundbreaking Cell Phone Lending Program

June 11, 2023 by  
Filed under Community

Kelvin Watson, executive Director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District has been recognized by two national library trade industry groups for its innovative Cell Phone Lending Program — which bridged social technology gaps by aiding more than 400 low-income and unhoused residents with wireless communication and internet services. 

The Library District has been selected to receive the 2023 Library of the Future Award from American Library Association (ALA)/Information Today, Inc. This annual award recognizes innovative planning, application, or development of library customer support around information technology in libraries. The award is given annually to an individual library consortium, group, or support organization, and this is the second consecutive year that the Library District has won the award — a first in the award’s history. 

In 2022, the ALA honored the Library District with the Library of the Future Award for its program that provides instant digital access to online library resources for transit riders using onboard WiFi on 400+ buses. To date, more than 270,000 items have been checked out. 

In addition, the Urban Libraries Council (UCL) has announced that the Library District has been named the 2023 Innovation Award for Anti-Racism, Digital Equity & Inclusion. ULC’s annual innovations awards recognize transformative programs from the organization’s member library systems across the U.S. and Canada — which further the causes of advocacy, anti-racism, digital equity, democracy, education, health and wellness, and workforce development. 

ULC’s expert judges selected the Library District from over 150 submissions in eight categories that display creative thinking and out-of-the-box application of library resources. Award winners were recognized for their inventiveness, the outcomes achieved, and the ability for other libraries to adapt and implement their work. 

“It is clear from this year’s selected 2023 Innovations that ULC member libraries are at the forefront of industry creativity, leading far-reaching efforts, and developing original programming,” said ULC President & CEO Brooks Rainwater. “These winners illustrate the exceptional leadership, dedication and perseverance demonstrated by our libraries amidst ongoing change and pressure. We applaud the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District for its visionary program, which will revolutionize their library and community and serve as a template for public libraries across North America.” 

The ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award will be presented to the Las Vegas-Clark County (Nev.) Library District during the ALA’s Annual Conference in Chicago in June 2023. The ULC Top Innovator Awards were presented on April 27, 2023, during a virtual awards ceremony. 

“I believe that access to technology is a basic human right,” said Kelvin Watson, Executive Director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. “Our Cell Phone Lending Program is another example of how public libraries play an essential role in making this possible for our underserved communities, and how libraries provide creative, innovative ways to empower and uplift people’s lives. 

“We hope that this program will continue to grow as we access future funding, and that it can serve as a model for our fellow library systems across the country. For libraries looking to launch this type of program, the key role for the library is to do what we do best — serve as a community hub and bring together the expertise of local partnerships that are needed to create a successful program.”

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