When I was a boy, I would go off to visit my grandmother, my Abuelita, in the summertime. Those visits were magical and packed with fun times, but sometimes those times were a little tough, too. You see, my grandmother was a stickler for manners, something she felt I did not possess in abundance. She was very old school, brought up in a time where “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am” were just the way you addressed people. She made sure that I learned how to open doors and to pull out chairs, to look people in the eye when I answered their questions, to sit still at the dinner table and, most importantly, to be kind to my brother, gracious to my elders, and to never tell a lie. My mother was always perplexed when I came back home from my grandparents at the end of summer. She always wondered who the new kid was in the house who was so well-mannered and so less rambunctious. It took a few weeks, but I always managed to revert back to my more normal, wild ways. 

But many of those things my grandmother taught me stuck with me. I grew into being a young guy who didn’t mind picking up books on dating etiquette when the Scholastic book order forms came in. I perplexed my peers with things like thank you cards and blew their minds when I told them that I bought flowers for a date, let alone showed up on time, wearing a sports coat. I don’t know who to thank more for those lingering bits of good grace, my grandmother, the nuns at Catholic school, or the chief petty officers who ran the shops in the US Navy.  

As nice as life can be, sometimes it can be pretty sloppy, too. We all try to do our best and sometimes our best is just not enough. When you are a kid, it is easy to goof up. What does a kindergartner know about life when they are just beginning to make their way into the world? What does any school kid know, really, what life is all about when life gives you real lessons to ponder on top of all the other things you are pressed to learn in the classroom? What makes it even harder to do the right thing when you are a kid is that you really don’t know yourself well enough to always make the right choices, to make the proper decisions. There are sometimes so many people looking at you to do your best that that it is easy to innocently make mistakes on top of mistakes. 

Teachers, coaches, religious clergy, older family members, friends, and relatives can be of help when times get confusing. It is great, but not always easy, to reach out to someone, to ask someone to give you a hand, to share some insight into what constitutes good, well-mannered behavior. Sometimes it can just be downright embarrassing to ask for help. It can sometimes help to have the right words to say, the proper vocabulary on hand that will help you start to share what it is that you have on your mind. That is where Jackson County Library Services comes in handy! We are built to solve problems! What is great about going to a library to figure out things is that there are a ton of books on the shelves that will give you a bit of insight about how to work out all those problems and issues that are perplexing you.   

It is one thing to need a book on how to properly set a table or pen a thank you note, it is another to need a title or three to help you understand why you behave the way you do around a sibling, or why you choose the friends you do, or what to do about kids who bully you. Need help dealing with feelings or friendships? Having a hard time figuring out the difference between education and wisdom? Worrying all the time about fear and jealousy? Put your Dewey Decimal System skills to work and head over to the 155-179 section of our collection. There you will find plenty of titles to help you better understand what all that stuff is about. And if you find that you need to know how to write a thank you note or when to send flowers, the books on etiquette and manners can found in the 395 section. 

What is reassuring, too, about picking out books at the library, is that when you go to check them out, know that that record of yours is protected and safe. You don’t have to worry about the library sharing the titles of those books you chose with anyone other than you. You can be rest assured that your interests are protected and that we will always practice patron confidentiality with you, just like we do with the rest of the community that borrows materials from us. 

Life can be difficult, but with a little bit of self-knowledge, hope, and forgiveness, an awful lot of what challenges us can be overcome, or, at least, can be made to be seen a little bit clearer. Please be sure to ask a member of your local library staff for help in finding books or materials you need that will help you out. We are always happy to assist you. In the meantime, be happy, breathe, and enjoy the beautiful spring days we experiencing here in the Rogue Valley. With a little bit of work and touch of luck, all things work out well in the end.