Advertisement

Burb's Eye View: Where to find the answer you want

April 07, 2011|By Bryan Mahoney

I’ve seen a lot of public libraries in my day, but I can’t recall a single one that lays claim to influencing 30 years of American pop culture.

Then again, I haven’t lived in Burbank that long. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that one local librarian single-handedly saved a scene in “The Rock,” or that the Aztecs in an old Ford truck commercial had properly knotted loincloths thanks to the Burbank Library.

From the mid 1970s until the late 1990s or early 2000s (depending on who you talk to), the Warner Bros. archive — all 125 filing cabinets of it — was housed at the library. For $60 to $70 an hour, library employees would find you any minute detail of any time period in human history. That seems like a tall statement, but the aforementioned loincloth proved me otherwise.

Advertisement

The collection is a mishmash of books, magazines, newspapers, clippings and other materials that reflect major time periods, cultures and social mores. If you needed to know how butlers and maids did their jobs in the 1920s, the librarians in Burbank could provide quite the education.

Or, if you’re the producers of “The Rock,” which starred Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, you might call upon the Burbank Library to research some Serbian graffiti. That particular request proved a little too tough for the archive, but luckily, librarian Misha Schutt was on call that day.

Schutt, a Russian major in college, has worked as a librarian for the American Film Institute as well as the city library. The producers of “The Rock” came to him when they couldn’t find a translation for a specific message from the terrorists in the movie. Schutt offered to write something for them, as he says that once you know Russian, “the other Slavic languages hold no terrors.” And toward the beginning of the movie, written on a package from a terrorist is the phrase, “Freedom or Death,” in the correct Slavic script.

“That feels good, to see what you did end up in a movie,” Schutt said.

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles
|
|
|