Chrystal Carpenter will join VCU Libraries faculty as Head of Special Collections and Archives 

October 20, 2022

Chrystal Carpenter will join VCU Libraries faculty as Head of Special Collections and Archives  November 28, 2022.

As Head, Carpenter will provide vision and strategic leadership for VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives to advance the educational, research and outreach mission for the department. The department houses nationally significant collections of book art, comic arts and medical artifacts. Additionally, Carpenter will work collaboratively to appraise and acquire materials and records of historical significance such as official records; promote the relevance and significance of Special Collections and Archives through exhibitions, programs, services, digital preservation, digitization and other outreach activities; direct space and facilities utilization, design and planning for the unit; and establish and steward relationships with communities and organizations that foster trust and engagement.

Carpenter comes to Richmond from Elon University in central North Carolina, where she has served as the Coordinator of University Archives and Special Collections since 2015 and as the Interim Coordinator of Public Services since 2020. At Elon, she developed and led strategic planning efforts to enhance access and increase discoverability, deepen engagement and outreach with campus partners, to streamline archival practices, and to build and diversify collections. She oversaw the redesign of Elon’s University Archives and Special Collections facilities to enhance collection storage, access and preservation as well as Elon Library’s digital infrastructure. 

“I am thrilled to be joining VCU Libraries to provide strategic leadership for the Special Collections and Archives Department to advance, support and build upon the vibrant and diverse collections at VCU,” Carpenter said. “More so, I am eager to join a team dedicated to the transformative experience archival materials hold for our students, institutions and communities.”

Carpenter has a track record of community outreach through exhibitions and public programming. Teresa L. Knott, Associate Dean, VCU Libraries, and Director, VCU Health Sciences Library noted: “Carpenter brings a broad portfolio of experience from being a photo archivist to working with manuscript collections to leading archives and special collections units. One unit was at an institution that benefited from the legacies of enslavement; she was deeply engaged in working with the institution to acknowledge and reconcile with their past. She is well prepared to lead our Special Collections and Archives with our diverse collections and our commitment to addressing our institutional history and to move toward more inclusive practices.” Knott also said “Carpenter’s experience with facilities will be invaluable as we work to expand our physical space committed to housing our collections.”

Before working at Elon University, Carpenter directed the Archives and Library Services for the J. Craig Venter Institute after serving as a Manuscript and Congressional Archivist at the University of Arizona Library, a Photo Archivist for the Arizona Historical Society/Arizona History Museum, and an Assistant Archivist and Library Specialist at the Arizona State Museum. 

Professionally active in the Society of American Archivist (SAA) and the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA), Carpenter served as the President of SNCA in 2020-2021. For SAA, she was appointed to serve on the Crisis, Disaster, and Tragedy Response Working Group recently and was elected to the Archives Management Section Steering Committee for 2016-2019 and the Science, Technology, and Healthcare Section Steering Committee for 2009-2012. She has been active as a mentor for the SAA Mentoring Program since 2009. 

Carpenter completed the Archives Leadership Institute in 2013 and the Librarian Active Learning Institute for Archives and Special Collections in 2019. She became a Certified Archivist in 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in anthropology with a minor in Near Eastern Studies, and a Masters of Science in information resources and library science from the University of Arizona.

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