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A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: Paul Ziffren Sports Resource Center

The Paul Ziffren Sports Resource Center sits like an oasis at 2141 W. Adams Boulevard, between Western and Gramercy, a couple of miles from USC. It's on the well-manicured grounds of the Amateur Athletic Foundation headquarters, having been built with surplus funds from the 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics.

There is no better place to research sports in this city.

Six full-time employees at the library manage 40,000 books and 6,000 video volumes, plus more than 90,000 slides and photos dating to the turn of the century.

The official reports of every modern Olympic Games, beginning with Athens in 1896, are on file. So is each issue of Sports Illustrated, part of an extensive collection of sporting periodicals that includes Ring magazine, Track & Field News, Street & Smith's college football and basketball annuals and team media guides.

The library relies heavily on new technologies. Public terminals can be used to access the Internet, search through on-line databases, watch CD-ROMS and connect to the extensive digital photo archives at Allsport, the sports photo agency. Viewing rooms are available for the videos, which are both historical and instructional.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Wednesday till 8:30 p.m. The library is also open on the first and last Saturday of the month, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no admission fee.

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