CLEVELAND — The University Heights branch of Heights Libraries recently received a surprising package in the mail.

"At first, I thought it was a picture book because it was this size," said branch manager Sara Phillips. 

It was a copy of Bob Dylan's 1970 album "Self Portrait."

“I just kind of burst out laughing when I saw the label inside," said Phillips, who initially thought the record was a donation. 

It was a return. Nearly 50 years late. 

The record came with a letter. A man named Howard Simon, who now lives in San Francisco, California, borrowed the album when he was just 14 years old.

As a recent retiree, he writes, he had just gotten around to returning it.

“In that context, I am returning with this letter an overdue item by my count," Simon wrote. "Approximately 17,480 days overdue as of this writing. So it’s quite late and I’m quite sorry.”

Phillips says the library no longer charges late fees, but in 1973, it charged 10 cents per day. Simon notes the late feewould be about $1,480.

“Now turning to the, ahem, late fee," Phillips read from Simon's letter. "That one really got me. It made me burst out laughing.”

Instead, he included a check to the library for $175.

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan read Simon’s letter and wanted to be the first person to play the record upon its return.

“I thought it was a wonderful story. I think we all have that item that’s hanging around the house that you never really got around to giving back to where it belongs," said Brennan. 

Both Brennan and Phillips agreed that even though there's no longer a record collection at the University Heights Library, it will now have a place on the wall for decades to come.

Perhaps making up for all those years it spent away.