UC Riverside librarian Carla Arbagey says, “Technology is like air to me.” It is essential in the library, where she integrates systems and tracks information on more than 3.4 million items. She is the winner of the 2014 Technology New Leader Award from the California Library Association, and a self-described “type-A personality” who likes things to be tidy, organized, and efficient.
Libraries are in her blood. Her career started at the Escondido Public Library where her mother was a librarian for 40 years. Arbagey has been working at the UCR libraries for 13 years, starting as a student assistant, then library assistant, and now an electronic resources librarian.
Arbagey can turn multi-layered information into colorful and detailed visual timelines. “Infographics effectively communicate messages that are heavy in statistics or other data,” she explains. “They can convey the ‘big picture’ of this data all at once.”
She especially likes to illustrate the depth, breadth, and impact of librarian work. “We feel the effect of management decisions to add more to librarian workload instead of filling open positions in our libraries,” she says.
For her employee evaluations, she illustrates work in service areas covered in the UC performance evaluation and peer review process. By creating workload infographics with color-coded workflow charts, she can show her achievements in areas such as special projects, committee participation, and conference attendance.
Arbagey says this presentation has helped to earn promotions and pay increases. “The more succinct and striking you can make your case for your evaluation, the better you look to your review committee.”
Her tool of choice is Microsoft Visio, a powerful application for charting, diagramming, graphing and scheduling. (Open-source software, such as Lovely Charts and Open Office, is also available for free.) She admits there’s a learning curve for Visio, but says it’s well worth it.
Arbagey shares these passions at conferences and professional development workshops. In “Prezi Basics,” she demystifies the online presentation software program and makes her custom templates available to others. Prezi, Arbagey says, “is better, less rigid than Powerpoint.” She presents “Bing it On!,” an exploration of the Bing search engine, and other topics relating to managing and acquiring e-resources at the library.
Infographics can be great union-building tools, too. As a union steward, bargaining team member, and communications officer, Arbagey uses Visio to create visually compelling posters, brochures, and newsletters in service to the union. She is grateful for the union’s warm welcome because she understands the importance of mentoring.
For union organizing, Arbagey envisions creating color-coded campus maps to indicate where members and non-members work, making it easier to sign up new members and to ensure that the university processes new memberships. She foresees diagramming data to track grievances and contract negotiations.
Members of Arbagey’s local can look forward to better harnessing technology to build the union with more email communication, a blog and perhaps a message board if, as expected, she becomes local union president this summer when the current president steps down.
— By Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter