Arlington Heights library patron returns album 40 years late, clearing slate
Nearly 40 years have passed since a vinyl record album by experimental musician Harry Partch was "borrowed" from the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. On Thursday, it returned and library officials accepted it with no questions asked.
"We understand things happen," said Executive Director Jason Kuhl. "We try to be welcoming and want people to know there's not some thousand-dollar fine waiting for them.
"We look at returns on a case-by-case basis," he added. "If patrons have something like this, we encourage them to bring it back. We're always willing to work with customers."
In this case, the patron was Arlington Heights native Bill Paige, who said he wanted to come clean and return the collectible to its rightful place.
"It's an artifact and in mint condition. I wanted to clear the slate," said Paige, a lifelong music buff, who worked as a writer in the entertainment industry before serving as communications director of Oakton Community College in Des Plaines. He retired in 2010 to Austin, Texas.
Paige described using the library as a teen at St. Viator High School and during his years as a commuter student attending Loyola University. His first job out of college was as a record promoter for A&M Records, before he built a career as a reporter and editor.
While working for magazines that covered the entertainment industry and ultimately for United Press International, Paige had the opportunity to meet and interview artists ranging from Roy Orbison, Fleetwood Mac and Van Halen, to Boy George, Journey and B.B. King.
He chronicled some of those conversations in his first book -- "Everything I Know I Learned from Rock Stars" -- which was published this month by Eckhartz Press and includes a reference to the Arlington Heights library.
Paige presented a copy of his book to the library with the hope that officials might add it to the collection.
Partch is not in the book but he continues to fascinate Paige, with his ability to invent instruments and push the boundaries of Western music.
"I always thought I would return it," Paige said of Partch's three-record set, "but there was just so much to listen to."
At one time, Paige had as many as 4,000 albums, but since relocating to Texas he has been liquidating his collection. The Partch album he presented to the library was still in its plastic cover with its vintage checkout card.
Kuhl said the library has not had a vinyl record in its collection since 1994. He likely will turn the album over to the Friends of the Library, whose quarterly used book sales generate funds for items such as special programs, equipment and art work.
"That makes me happy that I might be able to help the library in some way," Paige added. "That gives me closure."