In his article outlining the Federal Communication Commission's proposal to impose new charges for access to remote on-line data bases {Business, Oct. 18}, John Burgess accurately describes the consumer outcry generated from users of popular services like CompuServe, but he fails to mention the adverse impact these charges would have on libraries.

Libraries are major users of remote on-line data bases, using them for everything from the sharing of basic cataloging information and providing interlibrary loan services to patrons to searching for bibliographic references and the full texts of documents for library users. Often the information available on-line is otherwise unavailable. These data bases are typically accessed through networks such as Telenet and Tymnet at local telephone rates. Under the FCC proposal, telephone access charges would be increased by $.0745 per minute, or $4.47 per hour.

The impact these increased rates would have on libraries is substantial. For example, law school libraries use the on-line legal data bases available through Lexis and Westlaw at an average of more than 2,000 hours annually. Thus, just to continue providing users with access to these two services, annual operating expenses for academic law libraries would jump $9,000. The use of other on-line services and bibliographic networks would add even more to these costs. Unless libraries are granted substantial increases in their budgets, user services -- spelled "access to information" -- will be pared.

The FCC's proposed access charge is not simply some distasteful fee to the home computer user of remote electronic services. Rather, it strikes at a fundamental tenet of democratic society: public access to information. As more and more information is made available exclusively in electronic format, it is in society's interest to limit the financial obstacles to access to this information. Since this philosophy is basic to the library profession, it should not be surprising that a good portion of the unfavorable comments received by the FCC were from librarians. S. BLAIR KAUFFMAN Director, David C. Shapiro Memorial Law Library Northern Illinois University DeKalb