"I got a package in the mail from San Francisco that was record-shaped and -- lo and behold! -- it contained a record from our collection that was due back in June 1973," Phillips said.
The record, Self Portrait by Bob Dylan, had been checked out by Howard Simon when he was an eighth-grader at Wiley Middle School in Cleveland Heights.
Simon included a note with the record that revealed he had recently discovered the album among his personal collection and decided to return it.
"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)."
Phillips said Simon included a $175 donation with the record, as well as a copy of his own album, Western Reserve. Phillips said Simon's album might end up as part of the library's music collection.
"The funny thing about this is that we don't charge overdue fines anymore -- as long as we get the item back, we see no need to penalize people," Phillips said. "We're grateful that Mr. Simon returned the record. I'd said we can now call it even."