Riffs on Casey Danielson

Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library

Riffs on Casey Danielson

Staff As Resource - Part 3: Casey Danielson

Casey DanielsonCasey has achieved recognition within the DC Library System as an artist, musician, teacher, photographer, movie director, writer and graphic designer, as well as for his skill in computer technology. These skills make him a valuable colleague as libraries strive to create more content via blogs, webpages, videos and podcasts, provide modern programming, and produce striking fliers and posters to promote library services.

Two special projects of Casey’s deserve special mention.

One is Casey’s long-standing music programs for toddlers. "Rock Along With Casey" is an illustration of his minimalist philosophy. He started "Rock Along" to stress the importance of learning music at the earliest stages of childhood brain development. “We humans learn rhythm and non-verbal communication long before we are capable of the more controlled forms, like spoken or written language," he explains. "Musical communication resides at the deepest core of our animal natures—all the way down to our lizard-brains—deep, pre-verbal communication that is usually overlooked.”

The program debuted in 2008 while at the Watha T. Daniel Interim Library, and has been a popular draw at Watha T. for good reason. This free-form music class is fun for kids -- and just as importantly -- their parents. "Every morning when we are getting ready to leave the house, my son Mikey (age 2) always asks, 'Casey?' " says Shelly of the Shaw neighborhood.  

Through playing together, rhythm, listening and movement, Rock Along gives kids the opportunity to interact in ways that modern life often ignores. “Shy kids will interact with gregarious kids through music, without restrictive social barriers," says Casey. "This is a healthy, natural way for kids and adults to process and understand our lives and surroundings. They don't even have to be playing along.”

Casey is also a key contributor to the Shaw Oral History Project, and the resulting documentary film, South of U: Life, Riots and Renewal in Shaw. While Nick Hirsch, WTD library technician, does the groundwork research and writing, Casey is behind the scenes, filming the individuals as they tell their stories. He has captured some compelling footage from longtime D.C. residents looking back —some in anger, some with nostalgia, and some glad to move forward — on times that were trying for the city and certainly for African-Americans.

Once the filming is completed, Casey will use his expertise in Photoshop, iMovie and Final Cut to edit the interview footage for print and film. These interviews, spliced with shots of D.C., past and present, will be woven together into a part of a documentary that they aim to air on a local PBS affiliate.

Casey’s patient demeanor and skill in using Microsoft Publisher and Gimp, the open-source image retouching software, and his expert writing/editing skills, make him an excellent instructor for staff as well as the public. He understands color combinations, how to achieve balance through the use of white space and selecting images to create effective graphics.

An easy-going amiability makes Casey popular with older and younger library users. It is not unusual after story time to see small children come to the second floor of the Shaw Library, the adult area, just to say hello to their “hero.”

What makes Casey so popular with library users is his authentic desire to treat all library users with respect, courtesy and equality. Teens and adults seek out Casey for his in-depth knowledge of today’s complex web technologies, software and multimedia programs. Whether it is downloading music to iPods, untangling the wires of the AV cart, re-filming a vodcast, or help with editing staff blog articles, Casey has been the go-to person of the Watha T. Daniel staff.

Casey is modest about his achievements.  He belongs to a music band Mother and produced several albums.  A poet, playwright and novelist, Casey has completed several works awaiting publication. Art shows of his digital art works have been a huge success.

On May 29, Casey joins the staff at the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, where he can introduce his unique and singular talents to an entirely new group of children, teens and adults. 

Stay tuned as we feature more  staff members of  the Watha T. Daniel / Shaw Library : Anina Ertel, Elaine Pelton, Ellen Hungate, Eric Riley, Jamilla Coleman, Jayanthi Sambasivan, Nicholas Hirsch, Paul Sweeney and Towanda Gravitt.