Meet your Vice President/Programming Chair: Chrystal Carpenter

What jobs have you had in the archival realm?Chrystal Carpenter photo

I have been in the archival profession for 15+ years (eek, time flies) in various positions and institutions. Like many archivists I started as a non-permanent employee on a grant funded position. I started out as a metadata specialist creating EAD and MARC records and transitioned to the assistant archivist for the Arizona State Museum, a non-profit archaeological and anthropological museum focusing on the Southwest which gave me an opportunity to utilize my undergraduate Anthropology/Archaeology degree. From there I obtained my first permanent position for the State of Arizona working as the Photo Archivist for the Arizona Historical Society; from there I transitioned to the University of Arizona as the Manuscript and Congressional Archivist. Honestly, I felt I was going to spend the rest of my career at the U of AZ, but life had other plans and I decided to uproot and move to the East Coast. I wanted to try something completely different and I joined the J. Craig Venter Institute (a science non-profit) as the head of their archives first in Maryland and then in California. Ultimately, I wanted to be on this side of the Mississippi, in addition to returning to academia, and that is how I found Elon. North Carolina gave me a great network of archivists and a great archival home at Elon University as the Coordinator of Archives & Special Collections.

What is your educational background?

I have a Master’s in Information Resources and Library Science and a Bachelor’s in Anthropology both from the University of Arizona. In addition, I obtained my certification from the Academy of Certified Archivists in 2008 and had the privilege of being a member of the Archives Leadership Institute 2013 cohort.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?

The favorite part of my job is being at an institution and department that values the Archives and the expertise that my colleagues and I bring to our respective areas. In the scheme of things, the Elon University Archives and Special Collections is a fairly recent department, and being able to help lead and support the unit and shape the future of the department alongside my archival colleagues is one of my favorite things. I also value and enjoy participating in campus-wide initiatives, such as the Elon Committee on History and Memory and the Elon Traditions Council, both of which deeply engage with the archives in meaningful and impactful ways. The most important aspect of my job includes what I just mentioned, especially as it relates to our work to build relationships with the Elon community, advocate for archives & my colleagues, and support and provide outreach to engage with our broad community.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.

I am proud of the work the Archives does to engage our campus and build relationships to enhance discussions on Elon’s history from pop-up exhibits, to our committee work (History and Memory, Universities Studying Slavery), to instruction and teaching.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?

First, recognize the path to becoming an archivist is fraught with challenges (from an over-saturation of new graduates, expectations of new professionals, issues with equity and inclusion, for example), but I believe it is such an important, meaningful, and exciting time to be an archivist and worth pursuing. I would encourage anyone to evaluate the pros and cons and after deciding to go for it, seek out a network or peers to help you along in the process. There are so many wonderful people in the profession who can help you on your journey.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?

My peers. I have been so fortunate to have amazing peers in various points in my career – some of them have become my closest friends throughout the years. People whom I can bounce ideas off of, learn from, and lean on. It has been invaluable. I would say the Archives Leadership Institute, especially the 2013-2018 group of leaders and cohorts made a significant impact in helping me to gain confidence to move forward and take risks in my career.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?

I hope to continue the great leadership we have seen in SNCA and further the work that colleagues have done to create a robust community that engages important topics facing our profession and support the work of all those in NC. North Carolina has an amazing group of archivists, allied professionals, and graduate students in the state, and I would love to work on finding ways to bring more of these folks together to learn from one another and provide opportunities that could benefit our communities and profession.

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