Gerald Chertavian

Gerald Chertavian: 'I consistently sought refuge in the stacks'

"I've really come to appreciate the incredibly important role they play in public education across our state."

Well libraries, for many of us, are really areas of safe haven, of refuge, of quiet. I know for the young adults we serve at Year Up, often library is the one safe space that they can go to, especially if their home lives might be rather noisy, or at times complicated.

So we realize that libraries play an incredibly important role in many of our communities. 

I can remember growing up in Lowell, Massachusetts, going to the Lowell Public Library, walking through the stacks, checking out books, and interestingly, in all of my educational career, college and graduate school, I consistently sought refuge in the stacks, in order to find a place where it could be quiet, where I could read.  

And so libraries have been an important part of my life, since I can remember.  

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, my home, we have just built a beautiful, beautiful, new library, only about two hundred yards from our home, so our children get to go and explore the library, to use it for all that it can offer and it's an absolutely just a really important asset within the community, which is one we have access to quite readily.  

I serve on the Board of Education for elementary and secondary education for Massachusetts so we get to see the speak with many librarians across and Massachusetts. I've really come to appreciate the incredibly important role they play in public education across our state.  

I wouldn't have one favorite; I get to see a lot, talk with them a lot, and appreciate what they do. You know libraries play an increasingly important role, especially when you think about information literacy, and the way in which libraries help young people to become digitally and information literate.  

So I think to cut that out in today's society is not in our students' long-term interest in helping them to learn how to learn and expose them to a much broader array of information.  

So, I'm not in favor of those cuts. I've said I'm a pretty strong protector of free speech, so in terms of banning books in libraries, I can't see how that's going to help young people learn, or in general help people learn. So I'd much rather promote than ban.

I had the good pleasure to write a book about the program I founded, Year Up, which is a non-profit organization that in one year helps low-income individuals go from poverty to a professional career. We work with young adults all over the United States and in the course of that year they learn the professional and the technical skills to take those skills into places like Google, Facebook, Children's Hospital, the federal government, and show that they are indeed assets for our country, and that really help them to realize their potential.

I run Year Up full time. It's a fifty-million- dollar organization with about three hundredd staff, so it certainly keeps me on my toes.

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Book Title: 

A Year Up: How a Pioneering Program Teaches Young Adults Real Skills for Real Jobs-With Real Success

Library Name: 

Lowell (Mass.) Public Library