After receiving the title of World’s Most Locked Down City, Melbourne is starting to move again and that includes The Footpath Library.
The need for social connection and conversation, as well as books, reading glasses and beanies has never been greater, and thanks to The Footpath Library volunteers, people experiencing homelessness are able to get access to all those things again.
The Melbourne mobile library outreach program is back on track and volunteers run two weekly evening book stalls in St Kilda and Queen Victoria Market in the city. There are also fortnightly book stalls in Mitcham and Fitzroy as well as regular book drop offs to two community centres, helping vulnerable communities get access to books.
“It feels like we are reaching a wide group of people in need and spreading out across the city to improve access to books,” says Katrina Webb, Melbourne Programs Manager. “The Queen Victoria Market stall is by far our biggest – there are usually around 100 people experiencing homelessness on any one evening.”
Collaborators at the Queen Victoria Market include provides of clothing, hot food, hot drinks, food to take ‘home’, and of course books provided by The Footpath Library.
“We find that people are really happy to see us and love the consistency of access to books each week,” explains Katrina. “While lining up for food, people often browse the books and have a chat, then come back to take something ‘home’, usually a book, a pair of reading glasses and a beanie.”