Dave Carson, web content developer and multimedia producer for Johnson County Library, brings a passion for storytelling, public speaking, movies, researching and writing to all his communication roles, which helps him thrive in the demanding job.
He cultivated those skills throughout his education and early career, first on the Olathe South High School forensics team in the late 1980s. (He fondly remembers seeing actor Paul Rudd shine in tournament improvisations as a Shawnee Mission West student).
Carson’s abilities in humorous and dramatic interpretation helped him earn a scholarship to Kansas State University, where he continued competing in forensics.
“By my senior year we took fourth in the nation,” Carson recalls. “I’m pretty proud of that.”
He got a master’s degree in rhetoric from K-State and taught at a Wichita college and then at Longview Community College. He also worked part-time for several years at Westport’s beloved Tivoli independent movie theater, where he befriended owner Jerry Harrington and saw countless great movies.
In the late 1990s, Carson got a second master’s degree in educational technology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he helped create multi-media products to assist literacy teachers with their instruction.
From there, he went to work for Iowa Public Television for six years.
“We produced educational multimedia products. They were aired on Iowa Public Television and on National PBS,” Carson says. He also helped produce web content, plus educational products on CD-ROMS and DVDs that went to libraries and schools.
By then his own daughter, Hazel, was in elementary school and Carson wanted to return to Johnson County to be closer to family. He saw a Johnson County Library job posting that was a great fit for his skillset.
Carson has been with JCL since February 2007 and has had a big role in three website redesigns, including configuring Library web pages for smartphones. He and colleague Amy Field write a lot of the web content and he’s also involved in podcast creation and other initiatives.
He believes strongly in the Library’s mission, promoting literacy and lifelong learning and making a positive difference in the community.
“On a personal level,” he added, “I enjoy variety and the challenge of learning new things and adapting.” Keeping web content current and correct has been particularly urgent and important during the COVID pandemic.
“We are responsible for adding alerts to the website. We had to stay on top of that important messaging, for sure,” Carson explained.
Carson produces the “Did You Hear?” monthly podcast, which he co-hosts with Charles Hower. The podcasts share compelling behind-the-scenes interviews and stories about Library staffers, patrons and services.
He’s also creating short YouTube video tutorials, introducing young learners to what the Library has to offer. The first videos will soon be released in both English and Spanish, and more will be released over time.
A third initiative involves producing science videos and other educational materials for children living in a Johnson County domestic violence shelter.
Carson lives near downtown Overland Park and enjoys gardening and spending time with his wife, Staci Carson. His daughter Hazel is now 21 and in her senior year at Bard College in New York.
His father, Charles, lives in Gardner and is a loyal Gardner Library patron.
Carson says the work continues to be really engaging and fulfilling.
“The challenge is to reach more audiences as more and more content is available from so many sources,” he said. “I enjoy that. It’s a puzzle and I think we do a really good job of it.”