Finding Your Reflection

Finding Your Reflection

This is the first article in a series, Designed for Learning, highlighting our new facilities and the teaching and learning opportunities they provide for our community. See pictures from the articles in our Designed for Learning album on YIS Photos. Articles in the series are available on our News and Updates page.

Finding Your Reflection
by librarians Jennifer Gibson-Millis and Viki Radford

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have
only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been
reated and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however,
a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects

it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part
of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.”
Rudine Sims-Bishop, 1990.1

Our new library is full of windows, sliding doors, and mirrors: not on the walls, but on our shelves. Of course we have a beautiful physical space to navigate - one that is reflective of the multiple needs of all our community - but we have also had the opportunity to explore our library collection, and to think deeply about what and who it represents. This year we had the opportunity to undertake professional development about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice - and how these goals should be reflected in who and what our library collection represents. By looking deeply at our community demographics and needs in tandem with the cultures, identities, and life experiences represented in our library collection, our goal is to ensure that every single one of our community members can find themselves in the books they choose. The annual Sakura Medal book awards showcase titles chosen by librarians in international schools throughout Japan, and allow us to highlight both new and lesser known authors; Japanese authors, setting, themes and culture, and to provide a diversity of experiences, worldview, and underrepresented populations in the stories they share.

2 female students relax on Yogibo bean bags the the atrium of a library

High School students lounge on Yogibo bean bags on the landing between the 2F library and the lily pads of the 1F hub.

Kengo Kuma’s design has created a flow, like a river, that funnels patrons through the library and then the path spills over into the Lily Pads and trickles down each one to the pond of the lower elementary. The accent wood in the ceiling, with its variety of swirls and patterns, represents our uniqueness. If one stops within the flow and takes a moment to look at a bookshelf, within that shelf, our hope is that you will find books that represent not only yourself, but a variety of cultures, genres, sexual identities and more. Books are a reflection of us.

female librarian stands at her desk surrounded by wooden library shelves

ES librarian Viki Radford at her desk preparing the library for students.

But don’t just take our word for it - encourage your children to come and see for themselves! Our new library is open from 8.15-4.10pm Monday to Friday, and provides a variety of spaces for all their reading needs; whether they want to catch up on current events with a newspaper or magazine (Japanese and English available); find a cozy nook for some indulgent pleasure reading in their home language, or use one of our flexible spaces to research with friends or by themself. 

Once the public health situation allows, we look forward to having our parents use the library for their own sojourns to the worlds of their choice, and to find their reflection in our new library space.

large atrium in a school with wooden bookshelves, and round platforms with bean bags for sitting

ES Music teacher, Liz Mason, enjoys the bright spaciousness of the 1F lily pads between classes.


 Sims Bishop, R. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 1(3), ix–xi.