After the death of a young friend, Benjamin Andrew, in 2003, Sarah Garnett decided to make herself useful by working as a volunteer. She started helping serve meals to the homeless and disadvantaged in Sydney’s CBD.

How did The Footpath Library start?

After the death of a young friend, Benjamin Andrew, in 2003, Sarah Garnett decided to make herself useful by working as a volunteer. She started helping serve meals to homeless people in Sydney’s CBD.

One evening, Sarah noticed a man sitting under a streetlight reading a novel while waiting for the food van. She started bringing him a few books and it was through this that The Footpath Library began.

What does The Footpath Library do?

The Footpath Library donates near-new and new books to homeless people. You can read more about our services on the About pages.

How can I help?

To find out how to help, visit the How you can help or Volunteer pages. They contain the most up-to-date information on current volunteer vacancies, book drives and how best you can support The Footpath Library.

Where is The Footpath Library located?

The Footpath Library is in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

What kind of books does The Footpath Library accept?

The Footpath Library accepts books that are brand new or near new as long as they fit within our Book Donation Guidelines.

Does The Footpath Library donate anything in addition to books?

Yes! The Footpath Library also donates new knitted goods (i.e. scarves, gloves, beanies, baby blankets) to our clients. We also give out new socks in winter.  Please note we do not accept any secondhand clothing.

Can I give money to The Footpath Library?

Yes! You can donate via cheque or credit card here.

Who are The Footpath Library’s clients?

The Footpath Library’s clients are people who do not have access to good quality books.

What’s the Park Bench?

The Park Bench is the name we give to our Board. You can find out about them on the Who We Are page.

My relative who passed away had a large collection of books. Can I donate them to The Footpath Library?

While The Footpath Library loves receiving books, we’re pretty particular about the books we give our clients—we think of them as a gift so we’re aiming for the highest quality possible. Check out the Book Donation Guidelines to see which books are suitable, in terms of both content and condition. A general rule of thumb is: Does it look like it’s come brand new from a bookshop? Would you wrap it up and give it as a gift to your best friend or your mum?

I have some books to donate. Where can I drop them off?

Before contacting us about delivering some books, please check which books we are currently after. This will be listed on the Books page. Please also check out our Book Donation Guidelines to ensure the books are suitable. If yes to both, please email the Book Resource Manager in your area. You can find their contact details on the Books page.

My books are a little older. They’re not suitable for The Footpath Library, but I’d still like to find them a good home. Any suggestions?

We recommend contacting Lifeline, which is often looking for donations.

How can I contact you for more information?

Head to the Contact page for all our contact details.

Definition of Homelessness

Homeless people are those who:
– ‘sleep rough’ on the streets and in parks
– move between temporary shelter that may include couch surfing, emergency accommodation, refuges and hostels; or
– live in private boarding houses, without their own bathroom or kitchen and without security of tenure.

The Hidden Homeless
According to the 2011 ABS Census of Population and Housing 94% of people who are experiencing homelessness are not on the streets.

Homelessness Australia identifies four key groups of people who are often overlooked and undercounted when it comes to finding homeless people:

– Women and children homeless because of domestic and family violence
– The old and young staying with other households
– People in housing crisis
– Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Read more on homelessness