02/10/1997 at 01:00 AM EST
ALMOST EVERY PEOPLE STAFFER IS used to late nights. But often, it seems, a member of our library research staff is the last one out the door. No story is written without some information provided by the library. "We are closely aligned with all stages of the story evolution," says Jim Oberman, research operations manager for PEOPLE and resident answer man.
Since Oberman, 42, a Springfield, Ill., native with a master's degree in library science from Columbia University, created PEOPLE'S largely electronic library five years ago, digging up arcane details takes less time than before. Thanks to speedy connections to the Internet and dozens of online databases, "you can find incredible things within a matter of minutes," Oberman says. Most of the time, at least. "One of the queries that drove me crazy was Elizabeth Taylor's shoe size," he recalls. And sometimes questions such as who was Swee'pea's father—Pop-eye or Bluto—can keep even the computers humming. (In that case, researcher Steven Cook found a quote from one of the cartoon's creators, Myron Waldman, in an article that said he had deliberately left the lad's parentage in question.)
Being a source of information like that has made the library a favorite haunt of staffers, but many of us drop by for reasons other than the strictly editorial. "Not only is Jim a kind of walking database," says chief of reporters Nancy Williamson, but "he can tell us where to eat lunch."
When all the facts were in for PEOPLE'S fourth annual Celebrity Weddings issue this week, one thing was clear: Everything old is new again, even "traditional love songs and people going away in romantic things like a horse and carriage after the wedding," says executive editor Susan Toepfer. Another discovery was a familiar face in the photos of some newlyweds in the Washington area. "We have a group of couples who were married at country clubs where the President happened to be playing golf," says Veronica Burns, chief of reporters for PEOPLE'S special issues. "They got their photographs taken with Clinton. He always seemed happy to do it."