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Founder, The Footpath Library.


Sarah Garnett is a corporate communications producer, married mother of two and the Founder and Managing Director of The Footpath Library. Her story is truly unique: one night in 2003, Sarah noticed a homeless man sitting in the gutter reading a novel under a streetlight. She started a conversation with him, and from there The Footpath Library was born.

Current work

The Footpath Library gives away thousands of free books a year to homeless people in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, through mobile services and previously via libraries in over 110 homeless hostels, refuges and community organisations. It is a library that is noisy, outdoors and requires no membership. You can take as many books as you like and they don't have to be returned. There is no other library like it anywhere in the world.

Sarah's story is about taking a risk on an opportunity that comes from the left of field, changing your life on a hunch and how one person can make a difference. The Footpath Library characters Sarah introduces in her presentation leave her audiences stunned, incredulous and moved to tears. You will meet people who are funny, intelligent and friendly, and who love to read.

Previous experience

Speaker: Sarah has spoken to corporate groups and students, community organisations and retirees. All walk out of her presentation inspired by the difference the simple act of giving a book can make to someone who has nothing. Sarah is dedicated to promoting literacy and changing the attitudes we have towards homeless people. She is an emotive, inspirational speaker who appeals to all ages and all walks of life.

Media: Sarah was a 2013 NSW Australian of the Year Local Hero finalist and her story has featured on numerous TV news programs as well as radio and press interviews in Australia and internationally.

Education: Sarah has recently graduated from Macquarie University with a BA majoring in Anthropology, a degree she was motivated to undertake by her homeless readers.



  • Culture


  • Inspiring Stories
Sarah presented at the Toyota Womens Forum late in 2009. Her story around the Footpath Library, it's origins and growth, made all realise that it doesn't really take much to make a difference to someone who isn't as fortunate as yourself. The story of the Footpath Library and Sarah is special in that it isn't a story of lots of money or of lots of power. It is a story of how much can be achieved by the desire to make a small difference through giving of yourself. Sarah's ability to relate to homeless and disadvantaged people and to recognise and respect them as part of the makeup of society is enlightening for us all. Toyota Institute Australia
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