Dear Editor:

I sit here in the D.C. Jail having been arrested about an hour ago in the Library of Congress for wanting to stay and study. I am a professional researcher. I find data and utilize the library weekly for the resources only it has.

In my cell there are 10 others, most highly educated -- Yale, Princeton, Michigan, Nebraska, Georgetown, Antioch, Albion -- and most all committed to peaceful change. They're sitting in groups, talking strategy, waiting release. We've been treated fairly well -- though we were handcuffed. Each was assigned to a specific officer -- mine was Officer Adam T. Popielemierch. Nice guy. We had our pictures taken, Polaroids -- mine turned out well, I had my arm around him, and we were both smiling. Miss Manners would probably call it the perfect polite arrest.

Sure, we might not have any effect. But Mahatma Gandhi once said that, even though your statement or action might go unnoticed or receive no response, you still have to do something. We've done something.

Not only is research my profession, but my mother was a librarian. She showed me how, in the long run, reason will triumph. Will reason triumph here? Will people say, "Stop"? I don't know -- I can only hope.

At the least, we've raised some awareness. We wonder where our lawyer(s) are? We hope the spirit we have will continue. I haven't felt a fervor like this since the early '70s.

Who knows? Maybe -- just maybe -- the conservative jump backward is ebbing. This might be the sign. Why should they cut back funds here -- one of the most efficient agencies? And the greatest accumulation of written, recorded knowledge in the world should stay open as long as possible, should be accessible to anyone who is curious, for anyone to obtain the facts necessary to make informed decisions required by our society.

Once, about a year ago, I felt the urge to go into a church. So I looked up -- researched -- the closest one of my denomination and walked down at 3 in the afternoon only to find it locked. Security reasons? Mismanagement? I don't know. But I now seek solace someplace else. If the library is closed, what will happen?

The Library of Congress -- the fountainhead of the free flow of facts of the free and thinking world -- is a hope for world peace through understanding.

My compatriots and fellow jailees share that feeling. We hope our efforts aren't in vain, that others will pick up the torch and, even more, will follow in spirit.