The year was 1973 and Bob Dylan was playing on record everywhere.
An eighth-grade student named Howard Simon checked out Dylan’s 1970-release Self Portrait double-album vinyl from his local library in Ohio.
This week – 48 years later – he finally returned it.
He’d carried the album with him his whole life when, eventually, he was thumbing through his collection in his home in San Francisco and realised his error.
He posted it back to the library, along with an apology letter, a $US175 late fee and a copy of an album he personally recorded to add to the library’s collection.
“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,” Mr Simon wrote.
“I am returning with the letter an overdue item by my count, approximately 17,480 days overdue as of this writing.
“… this particular album has moved with me (in succession) from University Heights to Chicago, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Berkeley, back to Chicago, back to Berkeley, again to Chicago, Sacramento, and finally San Francisco. I’m pleased it’s survived at all.”
The library was pleased with the return, even issuing a press statement about it.
“The funny thing about this is that we don’t charge overdue fines any more – as long as we get the item back, we see no need to penalise people,” library manager Sarah Phillips said.
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“We’re grateful that M. Simon returned the record. I’d said we can now call it even.”
Self Portrait was Dylan’s second double album, notable for its inclusion of covers of popular folk and pop tracks, as well as Dylan originals.