Tree of Knowledge

My last post of the year and from my road trip this summer features a marvelous book sculpture by Jon Barlow Hudson called Tree of Knowledge. This beautiful celebration of books lives in the Yellow Springs Library Sculpture Garden at the Yellow Springs Community Library in Ohio.

My friend Emily Fine succinctly described the Tree of Knowledge on an Instagram post that she created for the Book Cougars during her own trip to Yellow Springs just last month:

Jon Hudson chose the tree form for its symbolism: wisdom, life, knowledge, generation, and fruitfulness. And because trees can be converted into paper for books, but here books make a tree.

Link to that post

I had taken a more southern route from Connecticut to Chicago than usual in order to meet Emily’s life-long friend and my new friend Shuly Cawood in Yellow Springs. Shuly lives in Tennessee but is from Yellow Springs and happened to be home visiting her parents when I was going to be driving home to visit my mom. After having met a bunch of times via phone and Zoom, it was great to finally meet in person. I’ve also taken a few writing workshops with Shuly.

Here we are in a local coffee/wine shop that also has a wonderfully curated used books section:

After meeting for coffee and a snack, Shuly walked me through downtown Yellow Springs and then to the library. It was a warm June day with refreshing light rain. It felt good to get out of the car and stretch my legs.

We arrive at the library. Notice the bee hotel to the far left.

Historic marker in front of the library honoring Virginia Hamilton.

Such an inviting library, for humans as well as birds and insects!

This sculpture is fabulous not only for its content, but it’s composition makes it seem alive. The way the solid column of books rises and turns and then explodes into branches and leaves of flying books is a delight.

Below is a photo of the library from across the street. The Tree of Knowledge sculpture is on the right side of the library. The Yellow Springs Community Library opened in 1965 and was formerly dedicated in 1966.

The library wasn’t open and we kept on with our walk.

Shuly also walked me by the old public library. I think this is the library that was built in 1935 that is mentioned on the library’s About Us page.

Yellow Springs Community Library
415 Xenia Ave
Yellow Springs, OH

Thank you for reading my blog, connecting with me here, and going along on some journeys with me over the years. I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2022 and beyond!


  1. Impressive. Thank you so much for sharing this Chris. Happy New Year and wishing you many new biblio-adventures.

  2. I really love your pictures and thoughts about the book tree. It also made me think of Silverstein’s Giving Tree for some reason—I think your observation about the tree becoming books.

    • Thanks, Ray. I suppose trees and books both give us so much of what we’re looking for and need. I just watched a video of someone reading The Giving Tree. Lovely to revisit that book. It’s been a while.

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