The first letter was from Col. L. J. Fishkin of Southwest:

"Dear Mr. Levey," he began, "I was under the impression that there are indeed places in the metropolitan area where one could not possibly find depressing examples of the depth to which use of the English language has fallen.

"Not so.

"My wife and I went to the Kennedy Center last Saturday to attend a concert. While wandering around on the upper floor, we ran into this lovely library operated jointly by the Library of Congress and the JFK Center for the Performing Arts.

"We started browsing among the very large number of books, all of them having to do with the theater, music, dance, etc. One book caught my eye. The inscription on the cover: "LC JFK Leidman At the Crossroads: A study of the American Musical Theater and it's relationship to the Society of the 1960's. ML 1711 .L44 LC-JFK

"I brought the book to the librarian -- a very cultured-appearing gentleman . . . I showed him the book. He didn't even raise an eyebrow; he didn't even grunt. He simply appeared placid and understanding, as though this was the sort of thing which happened every day in the week at the Library of Congress."

The second letter was from Nancy F. Bush, an information officer for the Library of Congress.

"Dear Mr. Levey," it began, "Please assure Colonel Fishkin that the Library of Congress does not wish to encourage or perpetuate the misuse or abuse of the English language, not even errant apostrophes.

"It seems that the inappropriate contraction that appears on the spine of the book in question was put there by the Library's contract binder (a firm in Florida). Rather than return the book, thus depriving readers of its usefulness, the Library decided it could cope with, if not condone, the grammatical lapse.

"The Performing Arts Library will take on the task of eradicating the mistake. The public can rest easy that it's the Library's goal that its records live up to the standard that would satisfy Colonel Fishkin's vigilance."