In 1973, Howard Simon—an eighth-grader in Cleveland Heights, Ohio—borrowed a copy of Bob Dylan’s 1970 album Self Portrait from his local library. It was due in June of that year, but Simon never returned it.
Instead, Self Portrait became part of Simon’s personal record collection, which bounced around with him mainly between Chicago and various California cities throughout his adult life. He settled down to retire in San Francisco, where he recently rediscovered the pilfered LP wedged between Dylan’s albums Nashville Skyline and New Morning. (Simon evidently organizes his records by artist, followed by release date.)
As The Guardian reports, Simon decided it was high time to return the album to its original home. He mailed it to the University Heights library, along with a letter explaining the gaffe, $175 to cover any fees, and a copy of an Ohio-inspired folk album he himself released: Western Reserve.
“As a recent retiree, I am taking the opportunity to turn my attention to some of the many vignettes of life that by dint of career and family have been neglected these many years,” Simon wrote. “In that context, I am returning with this letter an overdue item (by my count, approximately 17,480 days overdue as of this writing) … it’s quite late, and I’m quite sorry!”
Though Self Portrait’s case was pretty battered after nearly half a century’s wear and tear, the actual records were well-preserved. And since the library doesn’t charge late fees at all anymore, whatever money is left over after reinforcing or replacing the sleeve will just be considered a donation.
“As long as we get the item back, we see no need to penalize people,” library branch manager Sara Phillips said in a news release. “We’re grateful that Mr. Simon returned the record. I’d said we can now call it even.”
[h/t The Guardian]