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Long-lost Bob Dylan record returns to the University Heights library after 48 years

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Posted at 12:27 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 13:21:51-04

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — A Bob Dylan record checked out of the University Heights Library 48 years ago has found its way back home.

Sara Philips, a manager at the University Heights branch of Heights Libraries, was having a routine day sorting through newly arrived mail when an odd-shaped package caught her by surprise.

“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!” said Phillips in an article on the library’s website.

In 1973, Howard Simon, who was in eighth grade at Wiley Middle School in Cleveland Heights, checked out “Self Portrait” by Bob Dylan.

Doing some spring cleaning one day, Simon found the record mixed in with his personal collection, sandwiched between two other Bob Dylan albums, “Nashville Skyline” and “New Morning.”

Simon included a touching and funny letter with the overdue vinyl, that Phillips shared with the library’s communications department.

“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!”

Simon explained in the letter that the record wasn’t in great shape due to all his moves over the years from University Heights to Chicago, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Berkeley, back to Chicago, back to Berkeley, again to Chicago, Sacramento, and finally San Francisco.

Not only did he return the album, but he also made up for it all with two donations.

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Musician Howard Simon (Photo courtesy Howard Simon)

The first, a “replacement fee” in the amount of $175, most of which serves as a generous donation to the Library, since, according to Phillips, “The album sleeve is in rough shape but the records themselves are in great shape.”

The second item is a copy of Simon’s own album, titled “Western Reserve.” Dylan’s music career inspired Simon’s own musical journey and career.

“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,” said Phillips with a laugh. “We’re grateful that Mr. Simon returned the record. I’d said we can now call it even.”

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