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UC-AFT Member Spotlight- Carla Arbagey: LAUC-R Vice Chair, UC-AFT Bargaining Team Member and Recipient of the 2014 CLA Technology New Leader Award


Carla_Arbegey_GoogleGlass.jpgInsider: What brought you to a career as a librarian?

C.A.: My mom was a librarian for forty years, much of the time as the head cataloger for the Escondido Public Library in Escondido, CA.  So you could say I grew up with the library as a big part of my life.  Because of my mom's connections, I got my first job ever as a "department specialist" at EPL.  I helped out all over the library doing everything from children's room reference to shredding papers with confidential information. 

My experience at EPL helped to land me a job as a student assistant at the Orbach Science Library at UC Riverside.  After working as a student in the reserves unit for about 9 months, I was hired as a library assistant.  One thing led to another, and I became the head of reserves for both Orbach and Rivera libraries.  In the meantime, I earned an MA in Art History from UCR.  While I enjoyed studying art history, the degree wasn't getting me where I wanted to go, so I decided to pursue a second Master’s in Library and Information Science.

As a library student, I realized how well the career fit with my interests, values, and educational background.  I love knowing a little bit about a lot of different topics, which I am sure other librarians can relate to.  I was lucky enough to be appointed as the temporary e-resources librarian at UCR, and I was later hired for the permanent position. 

Insider: How did you get involved with UC-AFT?

C.A.: My dear colleague and mentor Rhonda Neugebauer, the bibliographer for Latin American and Iberian studies at UCR, is also the president of the librarian’s caucus for our UC-AFT local.  She encouraged me to attend caucus meetings and the monthly social gatherings for lecturers and librarians, held at our local campus watering hole, The Getaway Café.  Pizza, beer, and networking opportunities definitely make for great organizing tools!  I remember my first social gathering with our local board – I was thrilled to be sitting next to the instructors that I had known as a former UCR student.  I was actually surprised to find out there was such a big difference between faculty and lecturers – as a student you think of all your instructors as professors.  It was great to talk about issues that were important to both librarians and lecturers, especially since we were going through contract negotiations at the time. 

So I just kept attending our meetings and social gatherings, including the UC-AFT Council meetings.  I had so much fun meeting librarians and lecturers from the other campus that I’ve come to every meeting since then, and I'm getting more and more involved with our union activities.

Insider: You are receiving an award from the California Library Association this month.   Tell us about it?

C.A.: I’ll be receiving the Technology New Leader Award at the California Library Association (CLA) annual conference in Oakland.  The award is given by the CLA Technology Interest Group, and sponsored by Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (for those non-librarian readers out there, Innovative makes library systems/software).  I am involved with several technology-related groups and committees at UCR, and as the e-resources librarian I deal with the good, bad, and the ugly of technology all day long.  I’m also a Google Glass Explorer, owner of a few fun websites about technology, and a self-proclaimed data wizard. I am honored that the awards committee sees in me the potential to be a library leader through technology. 

IMG_6376.JPGInsider: In September, UC-AFT sponsored your visit to UCSB where you led a workshop on using infographics in review files. Tell us about your interest in using infographics to represent workload.

C.A.: It all started when I looked at my Outlook calendar one day, and noticed how many committee meetings I had that week.  I decided to make a simple bar graph to represent all the work librarians do on standing committees (non-LAUC).  This visual graph showing all the committees, task forces, and working groups I was on led me to wonder how I could graphically represent all of the work that I do, from special projects to conference attendance to committee work.  Infographics can be very effective at communicating a message that is heavy in statistics or other data.  More importantly, they can convey the “big picture” of this data all at once, and that was my goal when I made the workload infographic.  In this case, the “data” that I was working with was all of my professional achievements, which were listed in my peer review packet.  I used different colors, shapes, and sizes to represent various aspects of that data.  The result is a single timeline that shows just how much I was working on during any given time period. The visual impact of that is invaluable.  Infographics are such a wonderful tool to show the depth, breadth, and impact of librarian work, and on the flipside, how we are often impacted by management decisions to add to librarians’ workload instead of filling open positions in our libraries. 

Insider: You've just joined the Unit 17 bargaining team as a representative from UCR. What do you see as your role and responsibilities as a bargaining team member for the union.

C.A.: I see my role in two ways, and both of them involve being a listener.  First, it is my responsibility to listen to our Unit 17 members and understand their concerns, issues, and needs.  Secondly, as the youngest member of the bargaining team, it is my responsibility to listen to those with more experience at the bargaining table.  In my role as the Unit 17 grievance steward at UCR, I’ve learned a lot about union work, our contract, and our rights.  So while I have a good foundation in this work, I am excited to add to my knowledge and experience through bargaining.  Now is the right time to get involved and to learn: our contract re-opener is in the fall of 2016, and our successor negotiations will be in 2018. So, I have time to keep building my bargaining skills. 

Insider: You're doing some work at UCR to bridge the union and LAUC. Can you tell us a bit about that?

C.A.: I am currently the LAUC-R vice chair/chair-elect, and our librarian’s caucus president Ronda Neugebauer is the current LAUC-R Chair.  One of our goals for this LAUC year and the next is to make sure that union matters are no longer taboo in our LAUC-R meetings.  Although LAUC does not advise on issues covered by our contract, most LAUC members are also UC-AFT members, and it is important that we talk about issues of mutual concern.  By taking a leadership role in LAUC-R, Ronda and I are able to stop the censorship of union discussion in LAUC-R meetings, which is a big step towards bridging the LAUC-union gap.

Another way that I’m bridging this gap is through our newly-reinstated library newsletter, The UCR Library Insider.  I am the editor-in-chief of the newsletter, and we published our first issue in August.  I include a regular column called “Unions’ News and Views” to share positive information about unions in the library (we have many Teamsters and a few AFSCME members working with us).  In our latest issue, UC-AFT Associate Director Bill Quirk agreed to let us reprint his article on UC-AFT in the library, which discusses how LAUC and UC-AFT can be excellent resources during the librarians’ review process.

Insider:  What are the most important things we can do to build a really active and strong union membership within the libraries?

C.A.:  I think the most important thing we can do to continue to have a strong union is to engage our younger members.  I'm a younger member of our union and of the library profession, and I've really benefited from the guidance of my mentor Rhonda Neugebaurer.  Younger librarians benefit greatly from the work of the generations before us, but it's too easy for us to take these rights and benefits for granted.  It is not only important to highlight how unions helped to win these rights, but to emphasize that the struggle is not over.  
So, it is important for our veteran members to become mentors.  To seek out and engage new professionals, to convey to them the recent and historic victories of our union, and to encourage them to get involved.  In business management terms, it's really the first step in succession planning.  We need to make sure that there is a union after us, and that it is vibrant and strong!  I am thrilled to be a part of the next generation of union leaders, and I thank my mentor Rhonda Neugebauer for being just that - a great mentor.  I hope the AFT Insider readers will also step up and help mentor young professionals, too.

Insider:  What do you like to do with your time outside of the library and UC-AFT?  Arbagey_hiking.JPG

C.A.:  I do all kinds of things!  But my top three would be hiking, reading, and crafting.  I am an avid and adventurous hiker - I even have a blog of Southern California Hiking Trails (see 
Being a librarian, I'm into books, too.  As I mentioned earlier, my mom was a librarian, and she believed in the power of books.  We would often go book-shopping at our local Barnes & Noble, and my mom would always say money was well spent if it was on books.  From an early age I loved short stories and the horror genre - back then it was R.L. Stine novels and the "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series.  Now, after spending some time cataloging for the UCR Eaton Science Fiction Collection (which also includes fantasy, horror, utopian/dystopian, and all other types of speculative fiction), I find I still gravitate to the horror genre.  I'm also really into dystopian fiction - my recommendation to the readers is to pick up Hugh Howey's groundbreaking Wool series.  You'll love it even if you don't like dystopian fiction.
I'm also crafty.  That means papercrafts, scrapbooking, creative blogging, and even cooking.  My cooking involves fun recipes with bacon. With creative blogging, I want to offer something different than the other blogs you see.   For example, have a blog that tracks the titles of all the e-books UCR purchases, using word clouds (see  My hiking blog doesn't provide your average trail guide - I give great advice on how to get to a trailhead, specific/weird hazards you might encounter, and even reviews of the bathroom facilities!
Apart from those three big hobbies, I love watching football, trying craft beer and eclectic California wines, native gardening, and listening to 80's New Wave...the Pet Shop Boys are my favorite!  I also love hanging out with my dogs Rocky & Amber, visiting zoos and museums, nail polish (I have a collection of 250+ colors), origami, bonsai, gemology, and especially meteorology.  I'm famous for being able to give an extremely accurate predication of local weather for the next 5 days.