“A Story Goes A Long Way”



Anyone who reads knows the power of books to transport you to places beyond your current situation. That’s why The Footpath Library is such an incredible charity. Founded by Sarah Garnett in 2003, the Library distributes thousands of free books every year in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to people experiencing homelessness.

“I think what The Footpath Library does is provide a real opportunity for social connection for people who feel invisible. And when you volunteer, you have these deep conversations, the type you don’t usually have, and you go away feeling kind of nourished. A book is a means of forming that connection.”

– Sarah Garnett, founder of The Footpath Library

What was the moment that changed everything?

“I was working as a television producer and raising my boys when one of my close friends – the son of a friend of mine – died suddenly. The grief was overwhelming; his death felt so unnecessary. As a way of taking my mind off it, another friend suggested I volunteer at a food truck. A few weeks later I was waiting for everyone to arrive [at the truck] when I noticed a man sitting on the pavement, under the only light, reading a sci-fi book by Eric Van Lustbader...

He was surrounded by all these plastic bags full of his clothes and it was clear he was a rough sleeper. I went over to chat with him and initially I thought he was drunk, before realising that he didn’t talk to anyone in order to keep himself safe, and had just completely lost the art of conversation. I started bringing him books from my husband’s collection. Then one night, I brought a couple of boxes to see if anyone else wanted books. There were about 50 guys waiting in the food queue, so I just put the books out on the pavement, and that’s where it began.”

When did you realise it would be a success?

"Oh, I still think sometimes that it should be more successful – have I achieved enough in 20 years?!  When I consider that we have volunteers who have been with us for more than 15 years, pro bono supporters who have been our partners since 2007, and this is our 20th year, that’s when I realise The Footpath Library is a successful small not-for-profit!"

This October marks the 20th anniversary of The Footpath Library – an impressive milestone for any small charity.

Meet The Women Making Thousands From Their Wardrobes



Read more about Sarah Garnett and the power of books for people experiencing homelessness at PRIMER.


Improve your inbox.  Sign up to our free  weekly newsletter.


Would You Pay $100 For A Face Massage?


Yes, You Really Should Be Using Acids For Your Skin


“Should I Have Kids?” One Woman On The Mother Of All Questions


Want more stories?