By Jeff Pack

Fallbrook resident builds, installs Little Free Library in his yard


Last updated 9/21/2019 at 2:54pm

Jeff Pack photos

Dale Stewart stands with his Little Free Library located in front of his house on Potter Street in Fallbrook.

Fallbrook resident Dale Stewart lives to serve.

The retired Oceanside firefighter has affected the lives of thousands of people over his 29 years of service, he was a Boy Scout leader for 13 years, serves with a couple of trauma intervention programs, and has been involved with The Burn Institute for a long time. He served as an announcer for the Fallbrook Union High School baseball team while his son was in school.

Recently, Stewart decided to serve his community on a much smaller scale – he built and installed a Little Free Library in front of his home at the corner of Potter and Elder streets.

"I've always been one that believes in being active in the towns that we live in," Stewart said. "I do things like I go to the Christmas parade and I go do all of those type of things. I'm just a big kind of a community service kind of guy, and this is just like a natural fit. And since I retired, you know, I had the time to go ahead and put it together."

Stewart said when he moved back to his current house on Potter Street, he was reminded of how many people pass by his house on a daily basis.

"The other (house) was on a private road, so nobody was going by the house," Stewart said. "This used to be one of the few areas with sidewalks. So you got all the walkers, you have kids getting dropped off from school and all this kind of stuff. Honesty, I think I saw the idea on Pinterest, and I go, 'Hey, I can do that.' And it's something to get a kid's face out of an electronic device for a little while – so I just went ahead and made one."

According to its website, "Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world."

The idea is, people of all ages can take a book from the library, share a book and return it when they are done, free of charge.

The organization offers plans for building the library which are then registered each one as an official participant in the program. There are thousands of Little Free Libraries all over the United States and the world.

Stewart built his library without plans – and painted it red, like any good fireman would – which he is allowed to do, registered his library and he was off and running.

"I decided I wanted to have books in there that are both Spanish and English," Stewart said. "I've been going to the Bottom Shelf, the little bookstore at the library for about a year now. I've been buying all the kids Spanish books that come in. They hold them for me, and they're still hard to come by. I mean, I have one box and I've been doing this for a year. Once I had enough (books) I figured I'll go ahead and build it."

He said once he got his registration number, he filled the library with books and opened for business.

"I had posted something in the Friends of Fallbrook thing and had a lot of people say nice things and a lot of people were saying they're going to donate books and I've had some do it," Stewart said, adding that he's trying to get the word out that the library is for the community to use.

"I sometimes I'll sit up in a chair and I've been explaining to people when they come by that, 'Hey, this is for you,'" Stewart said. "There have been a couple of times that I've been out here and see kids come running around the corner with their book in their hand and come racing over to it. That's what it's all about."

Stewart's Little Free Library is at 304 Potter Street in Fallbrook. He said donations of Spanish language books for children and adults would be greatly appreciated.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at

Stewart's Little Free Library is one of the thousands of neighborhood libraries popping up all over the United States.


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