Chrystal Carpenter

  • Head, Special Collections and Archives

  • Assistant Professor
  • Special Collections and Archives

Chrystal Carpenter became Head of Special Collections and Archives in fall 2022.  As Head, Carpenter provides 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 significance; to promote the relevance of Special Collections and Archives through exhibitions, programs, services, digital preservation, digitization and other outreach activities;to direct space and facilities use, design and planning for the unit; and to establish and steward relationships with communities and organizations that foster trust and engagement.

Carpenter came to Richmond from Elon University in central North Carolina, where she served as the Coordinator of University Archives and Special Collections and as the Interim Coordinator of Public Services. 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. 

She has a track record of community outreach through exhibitions and public programming.  Her experience with facilities will be of great use as VCU Libraries is poised to expand physical space committed collections.  

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

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.

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.

  • B.S., anthropology with a minior in Near Eastern Studies, University of Arizona
  • M.S., information resources and library science from the University of Arizona