For immediate release | October 5, 2021

Drabinski, Watson seek 2023-24 ALA presidency

CHICAGO – Emily Drabinski, interim chief librarian at The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), and Kelvin Watson, executive director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, are the candidates for the 2023-24 presidency of the American Library Association (ALA).

Drabinski has served as chair of the International Relations Committee (2020-21), ALA councilor-at-large (2018-20) and chair of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Frameworks and Standards Committee (2019-20).

She is an active member of ACRL and Core (Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures). She is co-chair of the ACRL President’s Program Planning Committee (2020-21) and serves as reviews editor for College & Research Libraries. She is also a member of several round tables: the International Relations Round Table (IRRT), the Library Support Staff Interests Round Table (LSSIRT), the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT), the Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT), and the Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT).

Drabinski is a member of several ALA affiliates: the Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA), REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking, the American Indian Library Association, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, and the Chinese American Librarians Association.

Drabinski holds an MLIS from Syracuse University, a BA in political science from Columbia University and an MA in composition and rhetoric from Long Island University, Brooklyn.

“So many of us find ourselves at the ends of our worlds,” Drabinski said. “The consequences of decades of unchecked climate change, class war, white supremacy, and imperialism have led us here. If we want a world that includes public goods like the library, we must organize our collective power and wield it. The American Library Association offers us a set of tools that can harness our energies and build those capacities.

“I am honored to stand for election as president of this association. In this role, I will steward our shared resources on behalf of all of us who seek a better world. I know that world is possible, and I want to build it with you. I am humbled to ask for your vote.”

Watson co-chairs the ALA Digital Content Working Group and is on the ALA Business Advisory Group. He has served on the ALA Committee on Accreditation (2016-2017) and on an ALA Presidential Task Force. He was an ALA Spectrum Scholar (2006), a RUSA Spectrum Intern (2007-2008), and an AASL Member/Spectrum Scholar 2007.

He was a PLA director-at-large (2018-21) and holds membership in EMIERT and BCALA, which he served as president (2014-16), executive board member (2006-2018), fundraising chair (2008-10) and budget and finance chair (2010-12).

Watson also served on the Southeast Florida Library Network board of directors (2017-2021), the Metropolitan New York Library Council board of trustees (2015-17) and as co-chair of the Florida Library Association’s Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Task Force (2020-2021).

He currently serves on the board of the Book Industry Study Group (2018-21), was recently appointed to the Digital Public Library of America board, is a candidate for OCLC’s Global Council, and is a member of ALA’s Standards for Library Services for Incarcerated and Detained Individuals Working Group.

Watson holds an MLS from North Carolina Central University and a BS in business administration from Lincoln University (Missouri).

“America and our libraries continue to transform, and I’m humbled and honored by the possibility to represent you as an ALA presidential candidate,” Watson said. “We have always been a melting pot of nationalities, religions, ethnicities and gender identities, but historically, many of these segments have been blocked from realizing their full potential. By 2030, the U.S. Census predicts that immigration will become the primary source of growth, putting greater pressure on our schools to teach the literacy and tech skills needed in the 21st Century.

“All libraries will be called to fill this void, and I know that we can create a plan to address this coming need for new funding sources, exciting LIS educational and support staff opportunities, and new technologies that create efficiencies for ease of discovery and access.”

Drabinski and Watson will engage in a virtual candidates' forum at 1 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Register for the forum today. The candidates will each have an opportunity to make a statement and will answer questions from members.

Ballot mailing for the ALA election will begin the second Monday in March on March 14, 2022 and will run through the first Wednesday in April on April 6, 2022. Individuals must be members in good standing to vote in the 2022 ALA elections. Renew your membership online or by calling 1-800-545-2433, option 1. For more information, please visit the ALA Election page:

American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit



Sheryl Reyes


American Library Association