From M. Ted:
It isn't about books, Barry--it's about groups of people who do have the "My Way or the Highway" rule--it's about "This is what we do, this is how we do it" and it's about "if you do things differently, you're not welcome".
It's about narrow-minded people, entrenched people who have made up a lot of reasons for not accepting others--
You know, I think I've said here, in a number of ways that I believe a firm "no song sheets" rule, no exceptions no matter what the context or venue, doesn't make sense and I do not support it. I've named a number of situations where I think it's fine and disagree with people who want to prohibit it across the board.
Now I want to say that "This is what we do, this is how we do it" is a perfectly legitimate sentiment. If I give a singing party and someone wants to divide everyone up in groups and play Trivia and Monopoly, I have the right to say, "Sorry, that's not what we're here for." Similarly, I hope the folks who started a venue and are regulars there have the right to say "Sorry, that's not what we're here for" to folks who want to read songs.
It's a matter of community in a way. A community of strong singers who like spontaneity do not have an obligation to encourage weaker or less spontaneous singers at their session.. Their community formed because of a certain commonality of approach and they have the right to keep it that way.
BTW folk music has probably always had an element of exclusivity. (I've talked about this before, I think.) In many musical traditions and groups, the "junior" people were supposed to be seen and not heard until they were formally recognized by the "senior" people. It hasn't destroyed folk music yet.