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 a 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, I noticed a man sitting under a streetlight, reading a novel, while waiting for the food van. I started to bring him a few books every week and it was from that humble beginning the original The Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library grew.”

Now The Footpath Library runs regular mobile library outreach services in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and gives away more than 8,000 books a year to people experiencing homelessness, through the generous support of Australian publishers and book reviewers who donate new books and avid readers in the general public who donate their preloved favourites..

Who was Benjamin Andrew?

Ben was the son of one of Sarah’s closest friends, and they in turn became great friends. Sarah originally named The Footpath Library after him because books and writing were his passion, and Sarah wanted to commemorate a young man with a great and promising future whose life ended too early.

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 provide access to free, quality books to people experiencing homelessness
  • To operate mobile libraries that stock quality, relevant books
  • To create a safe and welcoming space where people experiencing homelessness can feel socially connected
  • To raise awareness and understanding about homelessness

The potential benefits of reading for our reader friends of The Footpath Library are:

  • Maintaining and improving literacy
  • Mental stimulation
  • Knowledge
  • Reduction in stress and anxiety
  • The pleasure of reading a great story
  • A distraction from daily life
  • A 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 pleasures 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, books donors 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 people experiencing homelessness by encouraging deep awareness of their difficulties and a desire to provide relief.


We collaborate 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 equality 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.