The Footpath Library

Founded by Sarah Garnett in 2003, The Footpath Library grew out of sorrow, a simple observation, and the desire to make a difference.

When family friend Benjamin Andrew died unexpectedly, Sarah responded to her grief by volunteering with one of the food trucks 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 from this humble beginning that the original The Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library grew.

Now in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, The Footpath Library collects donated books from the public and publishers and gives them to those who don’t have access to good quality reading material.

Today The Footpath Library is supported by a dedicated group of volunteers including its Patron, Board of Directors, and Sydney, Melbourne and Perth Branch Management Teams.

Who Was Benjamin Andrew?

Benjamin Andrew was the son of one of Sarah’s closest friend’s.  Ben and Sarah had become great friends and Sarah originally named The Footpath Library after him because books and writing were his passion and she wanted to commemorate a young man with a great future whose life ended too early.

As a 15 year old Ben was sexually assaulted by a pedophile and ten years later dragged though an associated legal battle, only to die tragically of pneumonia at 27.

Our Vision

The Footpath Library encourages the benefits of reading and connection by giving quality books to people experiencing homelessness.

Our Key Objectives

  • To enrich the lives of people experiencing homelessness
  • To increase the benefits of reading for people experiencing homelessness
  • To make free books available to people experiencing homelessness
  • To operate mobile libraries that stock quality, relevant books
  • To raise awareness and understanding about homelessness

Potential benefits of reading for our reader friends include:

  • Maintaining and improving literacy
  • Mental stimulation
  • Knowledge
  • Reduction of stress
  • Pleasure of reading a great story
  • A distraction from daily life
  • Connection with a past interest or other readers

Our Values


The Footpath Library values people experiencing homelessness as contributing members of society and recognises their right to the benefits and pleasure of reading.  We consider mutual respect to be vital for this group as well as those assisting them.


The Footpath Library believes books can connect the community with people experiencing homelessness and that through books our volunteers, book donators, and supporters can create a sense of belonging and conversation with our reader friends.


We believe in the power of community, including organisations and individuals, to make an enormous difference to the social fabric of society.  We aim to create a sense of community for our reader friends, volunteers and supporters.


The Footpath Library seeks a society that truly understands homelessness and will take responsibility for the emotional and physical wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness.


The Footpath Library approaches its work with homeless people by encouraging deep awareness of their difficulties and a desire to provide relief.


We work co-operatively with those who advocate for and take action to protect people experiencing homelessness, we work toward our vision as a team and seek a collaborative approach to our work with our reader friends, volunteers and supporters.


We believe in the power of storytelling and that books have the power to change and enrich lives!


We believe that social equity and justice for people experiencing homelessness are fundamental to Australia’s future.  We also believe in empowering our staff and volunteers to work to their best capacity.


The Footpath Library operations and dealings with our reader friends, volunteers, sponsors and supporters will be of a professional standard.


The Footpath Library strives to achieve a business model that has minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, and society; that embraces renewable resources, sustainable development and distribution; that creates value for clients, supporters, and the environment.

Definition of homelessness
Fact sheets