It\'s the place where Gregory Peck got the idea for his ordinary-Joe hairdo in \"To Kill a Mockingbird,\" where Alfred Hitchcock got the lowdown on flight patterns for \"The Birds,\" where George Roy Hill first glimpsed the bookie joints he wanted to depict in \"The Sting,\" and where Steven Spielberg learned about shark behavior for \"Jaws.\"
For 84 years, its voluminous clipping files -- organized by topic and crammed with photographs -- were used to design the look and feel of thousands of movies and television shows, from the cop shop in the 1950s TV series \"Dragnet\" and the rocket control panels in 1995\'s \"Apollo 13\" to the
restaurants in this year\'s Jacqueline Susann biopic, \"Isn\'t She Great.\"Until six weeks ago, the Universal Studios Research Library was the oldest and largest remaining collection of its sort in town -- a vital resource for screenwriters, producers, art directors, and set designers who relied on its books, magazines, and indexed images to give their projects factual and atmospheric credibility. Want to see the purses Tiffany\'s made in 1970? San Quentin\'s gas chamber in 1930? Or American railroad station interiors before 1900? The library\'s files offered all that and more.
Then suddenly, to save money, Universal shut its library down. The closure -- which came as a surprise to many on the Universal lot -- has prompted an outcry from Hollywood\'s creative community, many of whom worry about the fate of the library\'s more than 50,000 books and magazines and 5 million