MLA & AAHSL have issued a joint letter expressing some concerns about the Section 123 language in the House version of the America COMPETES reauthorization.  Personally, I don't think they need to worry.

Section 123 establishes an interagency public access committee that would be charged with "the responsibility to coordinate Federal science agency research and policies related to the dissemination and long term stewardship of the results of unclassified research, including digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, supported wholly, or in part, by funding from the Federal science agencies."

The specific language that raised an eyebrow for the folks at MLA & AAHSL is the call for "uniform standards" for research data, etc., in order to insure interoperability, and to "maximize uniformity" with respect to the benefit and impact of such policies.  The letter writers are concerned that this would "almost undoubtedly have an effect on the implementation of the NIH Public Access Policy and may result in the need to rework existing standards..."

Well, I guess that you could read it that way.

Section 123 follows closely from the recommendations that we made in the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable report.   Although the Roundtable is not referenced in the legislation, it is referred to in the House Committee report, which says, "Due to the complexity and importance of this issue, the Committee urges the Public Access working group required under this section to give careful consideration to the Roundtable's report and to develop a balanced process for seeking advice from and collaborating with all parts of the non-Federal stakeholder community as it carries out its responsibilities..."

I certainly don't speak for the other members of the Roundtable (an independent minded group of individuals, to be sure), nor for whoever drafted the Section 123 language, but in our discussions we returned again and again to the issue of interoperability.  While we felt strongly that, on the one hand, agencies needed some flexibility in developing and adapting their policies to meet the specific needs of the disciplines that they support, we were also alarmed at the notion of completely independent and uncoordinated efforts and the prospect of multiple repositories that couldn't interact with each other in any effective way.  Hence the calls for standards and "maximum uniformity".

We refer to the NIH Public Access Policy and to PMC in several places, taking those as given.  Implicit in the report is the notion that the PMC standards must be one of the basic building blocks of establishing standards that can be applied across any and all repositories.  Any move that would reduce the effectiveness of what has already been established in PMC would be a significant step backwards.  So I was surprised at the concern expressed in the MLA/AAHSL letter.  We just never looked at it that way.

Still, given what has been involved in the development of PMC, both before and after the implementation of the NIH Public Access Policy, I can see where there might be some nervousness.  The MLA/AAHSL letter recommends some language that could be added to Section 123 that would mitigate that nervousness, and something like that would certainly still be in keeping with the spirit of the report.

One of the flaws of FRPAA in its current incarnation is that it lacks any call for coordination among the agencies.  Because it is so narrowly focused on the public access issue, it lacks assurances for the kinds of interoperability that is absolutely essential if we are going to reap all of the potential benefits from applying large scale computing (text and data mining) across multidisciplinary repositories. 

Important as public access is, it musn't be viewed in a vacuum, or as the supreme social good.  At this critical moment in history, we need to be sure that we are paying as much attention to preservation & archiving, interoperability, and stewardship of the Version of Record (VoR) as we are to maximum availability.  As we found in our Roundtable discussions, this does make the development of policy more complex, but it is worth taking the time and making the effort. 

Busy Telling Stories

Every piece of writing should tell a story.   This is as true for a report for my boss (like the update on our investigations into the impact of journal cancellations that I need to get done this week), as it is for an essay that I may be preparing for print, or a tale about Josie that I post here.    Same thing for any kind of a presentation that I might do for a conference:  What's the plot?  Who are the characters?  Where's the dynamic tension?  How do I want the audience to feel when they've come to the end?

I have lots of stories to work on in the next few months:

In two weeks I'm doing a presentation on open access for the annual meeting of the NCRR/SEPA program directors.   My assignment is to take 10-12 minutes to discuss what open access journals are, why SEPA PIs should be interested in publishing in them, and any other advice I have about "publishing in open access journals or publishing in general."  To do this adequately in the time allotted is practically impossible.  Approaching it as a story helps to keep the presentation concise and on track, rather than just a scattering of semi-related facts.

The editor of the JMLA asked me to write a guest editorial for the January 2011 October 200910 issue.  I'm quite thrilled about this since the editorials that I wrote while I was running the thing include some of the best writing that I've ever done, and I've missed having that challenge.  I'm going to use the opportunity to write about the experience of participating in the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable.  The report stands on its own and we've been pleased with the reception that it's gotten, but what I'm interested in relating in the editorial is what it was like on the inside -- as far as I'm aware, the Roundtable was the only occasion during all of the smoke and thunder surrounding the open access discussions of the past decade or so that a group of stakeholders covering the range of views that we did was brought together to have the kinds of intense discussions that we did.  There ought to be more of that.

I promised Flannery that I'd work with BtheA on an article about medical humanities for the theme issue of the JMLA that he's putting together.  I'm far, far behind on the original schedule that I'd set for that, although I do have a pretty good sense of how I want to approach it.  The tension between the need to educate physicians for the science and to try to help them become fully rounded human beings at the same time remains unresolved, and I'd like to dig a bit into the issues surrounding that tension.

In June I'll be in San Francisco as part of a panel presenting at the annual SSP meeting.  My brief for this is to talk about budgets in libraries -- the things that publishers don't necessarily know or think about.  The panel comes out of the efforts of the Chicago Collaborative, part of our range of education activities designed to bring librarians and publishers to a greater understanding of the challenges and issues that each other faces.  In this case, the story that I want to tell has to do with the varied ways in which libraries get funded, the multiplicity of priorities that are always jostling for resources, the gradual shifting in how library directors are thinking about allocating those resources -- and what that might mean for publishers.

July takes me to the annual CESSE meeting in Pittsburgh to talk about open access, public access, and the various issues that the Roundtable occupied itself with.  Until I got the invitation, I didn't know that CESSE existed, but it's no surprise since there is an association for everything.  It's possible that I'll have crossed paths with some of these folks at other meetings, but I do particularly like going to meetings that are outside of my usual orbit.  Librarians spend too much time talking amongst themselves.  They need to get out more.

And then there's the Doe Lecture.  I don't actually give that until May of next year, and don't need to have it ready to send to the JMLA editor for a month or two after that, but I've started to think about the story arc for it.   As I've remarked to a number of people, while I've had the opportunity to do many interesting and valuable things with the Medical Library Association, the only two things I ever really wanted to do were to edit the Bulletin (back when it was the Bulletin rather than the Journal) and to someday give the Doe Lecture.  It means a great deal to me that I'm going to have that chance.

All of these stories, of course, are variations on the same themes -- the radical changes occurring in the realm of scholarly communication and the tremendous opportunities that they present for librarians.  The tale unfolds in the telling.  As always, when I'm looking ahead to a presentation or a piece of writing, I'm eager to find out what I'm going to say.

The Relevance of Libraries

"And the library?

"It can look like the most archaic institution of all.  Yet its past bodes well for its future, because libraries were never warehouses of books.  They have always been and always will be centers of learning.  Their central position in the world of learning makes them ideally suited to mediate between the printed and the digital modes of communication."

This, from the introduction to Robert Darnton's The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future

I've been a fan of Darnton's ever since reading The Great Cat Massacre many years ago.  As a historian with an annales disposition, he has done some of the most interesting and useful work on the history of the book and printing and the way they have affected society and the diffusion of knowledge of anyone in the past fifty years.  As an innovator and experimenter (he founded the Gutenberg-e program), he has taken what he's learned from all of that scholarly work and looked for ways to apply it in shaping the intellectual infrastructure of the 21st century.  Now, as Director of the Harvard University Library, he is perfectly placed to assess the state of libraries and the convergence of print and digital.

Plus, he's a damn fine writer.  I would put this book on the absolutely must read list for any librarian who actually wants to understand better why the question of "how do we make libraries relevant" is a complete hand-wringing red-herring waste of time.

Of course, it's a book.  It's 206 pages (plus intro and index), and I know that a lot of the hip young techno (hand-wringing) librarians don't like to read books.  They get everything they need from blogs and twitter.  Look at it this way -- very few of Darnton's sentences are longer than 140 characters.  Take a deep breath and pretend it's just a really long twitter feed.  I know you can do it.  Two evenings, max.

It's a collection of essays (most reworked somewhat) that he's written over a number of years, divided into three sections -- looking into the future, studying the present, and considering the past and the implications that our past has for our future.   He has particularly insightful things to say about the Google Books settlement (agree with him or not, his arguments need to be considered), the advantages or disadvantages of electronic books, the importance of open access, and why the history of books matters.

Darnton is neither a technophile evangelist for the coming digital revolution, nor a grudging apologist for how it used to be "better".  His long historical perspective puts him in the position of someone who is excited about what the new technologies can offer us without losing his understanding of the importance of what we've had in the past and what needs to be preserved as we move eagerly into the unknown future.

Librarians, and the institutions that they build, have always played a critical role in the advancement and preservation of learning and culture.  Darnton's book helps to explain why that is even more the case now than ever. 

Disruptions In Many Directions

If I were a sociologist of the blogosphere, I might find a fine case study in the comment thread to Michael Clarke's excellent post, Why Hasn't Scientific Publishing Been Disrupted Already?, which showed up on The Scholarly Kitchen just after the start of the new year.

Clarke starts with the observation that, despite nearly two decades of chatter about how the web was going to revolutionize scholarly publishing, and despite the tremendous disruptions that have occurred in so many other areas of modern society and communications, scholarly publishing "does not look dramatically different..., at least in terms of the major publishers. The industry has been relatively stable."

He then goes on to hypothesize why that might be, and suggests that it has to do with the fact that the major roles that publishers play are cultural ones, and that "these are not technology-driven functions."

He goes on, "Given these 3 deeply entrenched cultural functions, I do not think that scientific publishing will be disrupted anytime in the foreseeable future. That being said, I do think that new technologies are opening the door for entirely new products and services built on top of—and adjacent to—the existing scientific publishing system."  And he gives some examples.

I think that Clarke is right on target here.  I've long argued that while the technological changes that the internet represents are indeed profound, it will take at least a generation or two before we begin to see the beginnings of a mature digital culture that parallels the mature print culture that we all grew up in, because it takes a considerable amount of time for society to fully absorb and adjust to the sociological, cultural, political and legal changes that are required.

The post has garnered 75 comments -- relatively few of which actually address the core of his argument.   As is usually the case with blog discussions many of the commenters use the occasion to expand on their own pet issues, which may or may not be tangentially related to the core of the argument being put forth.  Then there are the little side arguments that take place among different commenters which often go very far afield. 

Overall though, it's pretty interesting discourse, even if it doesn't take Clarke's argument very far.  It's like being in a bar with a group of semi-sober, smart, opinionated, occasionally cantankerous, and sometimes slightly lunatic folks who really do care very much about the issues, even if the evening is wearing on rather past the point where anyone is thinking clearly.   At any moment somebody is going to climb up on a table and start declaiming, "It is so being disrupted!" just before he falls over and passes out.

But Clarke's essay deserves more serious attention than just as fodder for barroom conversation, no matter how occasionally brilliant and illuminating some of that conversation can be.  I hope that it gets it.

The Caricature of Taypayer Access

I am avidly following the discussion about public access on the OSTP blog and I see this morning that of the 26 new comments that have come in overnight, 21 are from Harnad.  Sigh.  "Bless his heart," as we say in the South.  I applaud the folks at OSTP for trying to be as open and inclusive as possible, but is this really any way to have a reasoned discussion?  I would hate to have to be the person who's got to read through all of this stuff and try to figure out if it actually reflects any consensus of opinion.

Hardly anyone that I talk to disagrees with the general abstract principle that the public should have ready access to the results of federally funded research.  But that's not really what all the heat is about.  What SPARC and its legions claim is that the public should have free access to the peer reviewed literature that results from federally funded research.  This is quite a different thing, and SPARC has been extremely effective at papering over that critical distinction.

There's the expected amount of publisher bashing in the comments of course, best illustrated, perhaps, by Evans Boney's "overview of what happens in peer-reviewed research:"

1- SCIENTISTS spend weeks preparing a grant proposal and sometimes get a grant, likely paid for by citizens of the USA.
2- SCIENTISTS do the research.
3- SCIENTISTS submit a paper to their peers
4- these other SCIENTISTS review these papers and send back comments.
5- PUBLISHERS claim a copyright on the result of the SCIENTISTS work and make the money that should rightly belong to the people who did the research. This money comes from subscriptions paid by libraries which, at public universities, are ALSO paid for by citizens. PUBLISHERS add two extra costs to the public at large, and are entirely worthless and burdensome to today’s scientific structure.

What one would logically conclude if this were actually the case, is that scientists should quit sending their articles to established journals, and simply organize their own peer review mechanisms and post their papers on their own.  Problem solved. 

Alas, this description is an ignorant caricature, although one that passes for reality among far too many of my colleagues in libraryland.  Even on a very small scale (for example, my experience with the four slender issues a year of the JMLA) there is a tremendous amount of labor involved in getting something from manuscript to published article, and then in getting that to the attention of the people for whom it will be useful, labor that is completely unacknowledged in the silly simplification that Evans presents. 

The advocates for public access mandates implicitly recognize this, of course.   It is the post-peer review articles that they want made publicly available.  They'd like the final published paper, of course, but those damned copyright laws prevent them from just taking those -- so they'll settle for the final peer-reviewed manuscript, which, they claim, the publisher doesn't quite have the rights to yet (although the fact that the NIH policy requires that the written agreement between the publisher and the author allow Pubmed deposit indicates that maybe the publisher does have some kind of a claim after all... but we'll try to avoid going there...).  One gets a headache from trying to follow the tortured logic.  So much easier to just raise the banner of "taxpayer access!"

So I'm left with this conundrum:  if what the publisher provides is so valuable that no mandate urges making papers available that don't have the benefit of it, how do we justify taking that value (and diminishing the value to the publisher who provided it) without giving something in return?  Conversely, if what the publisher provides is of no value at all, why don't the mandates suggest that we simply bypass the publisher altogether?

(As a postscript, I feel compelled to add that I do believe that the public should have unfettered access to the peer-reviewed results of federally funded research.  Indeed, I think that all of the peer-reviewed scientific literature should be made freely available.  After all, one of the professional accomplishments of which I am most proud is having played a part in making the content of the JMLA freely available -- the first library journal that did so.  I just think that we need to develop policies that do a much better job of acknowledging and accounting for the contributions made by publishers.  I don't think that the taxpayer access argument, in the simplistic form in which it is usually stated, is intellectually honest.  Evans Boney may not know any better, but surely many of the others who make that same case do).


"Trust is the only important thing!"   Slightly hyperbolic, but I knew what Geoff was getting at.  We were talking at the end of the CrossRef 10th anniversary dinner about the various projects under development at CrossRef in support of their mission:

CrossRef is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to enable easy identification and use of trustworthy electronic content by promoting the cooperative development and application of a sustainable infrastructure.

I'd be speaking the next day on issues surrounding the development of sound policies for handling plagiarism and duplication of publication.  The Baroness Onora O'Neill, Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, would speak on "Trust, Communication and Academic Publication."  Heady stuff.  (The slides for the presentations are now all available on the CrossRef site).

While issues surrounding the protection of the integrity of the scientific record were front and center at the CrossRef meeting, the same themes permeated all of the various venues in which I found myself engaged with publishers throughout the summer and fall, be it with the Scholarly Communication Roundtable, the STM meeting in Frankfurt, the publishing panel we put together for the NLM/AAHSL Leadership Capstone, or the Chicago Collaborative meeting in Boston.  The fact is, serious publishers of all stripes, be they large or small, commercial or not-for-profit, spend a helluva lot of time worrying about ensuring not just the integrity of the single article before them, but the ongoing stewardship of that article. 

Stewardship involves not just shepherding a manuscript through the peer review process -- there are issues of image manipulation, unintentional errors or violation of publication norms through ignorance or cultural differences, the challenges of dealing with post-publication updating, errata, error, fraud,  retraction and preservation.  In our focus on access, librarians tend to ignore most of this.   Is it that we think these issues are unimportant or trivial?  Or do we just not think about them at all?

Of course access is important, but as Professor O'Neill pointed out in her talk (done without slides, so not, alas, reflected in the presentations that are available online), access is not sufficient -- what we're really after is communication.  And ensuring communication requires that we pay adequate attention to integrity and to stewardship. 

Librarians haven't put enough energy into those aspects of the discussion, and we need to.

Public Private

When I first went to work at the National Library of Medicine you couldn't get a password to search Medline until you'd been trained.  They'd gotten it down to a basic three days, plus a couple of days for the specialized databases -- a week altogether.   A decade or so earlier, it took three months.  No, I am not making this up.

You had options.  Although no private company would've built Medline, there were several that were eager to provide access.  BRS had been formed by some of the people who'd been involved in the original MEDLARS project.  When I was in library school, DIALOG was the big dog in the bibliographic database market, with a portfolio of more than a dozen databases.   But Medline was the first -- when it came up in 1972 1971, it was the first publicly available bibliographic database in the world.  But "publicly available" didn't mean you could just come in.  NLM licensed the database to independent companies, but with plenty of restrictions -- required training being one of them.

Searching Medline (MEDLARS On Line -- the original project had been MEDical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System) was cheapest if you went directly to NLM.  By law, they couldn't charge more than the actual cost of providing access.  You paid by the minute, so a librarian spent a good bit of


time before dialing up working out the search strategy so as to be as efficient as possible.  The companies had to make money, so they had to charge more, so they had to build fancier search engines, had to offer additional services to draw customers.  And they were very successful.  They hated the fact that they had to compete with "the government".  But if the government hadn't built the database in the first place, they wouldn't have existed.

This was all pre-internet.  (Remind me to tell you sometime about my experience with the first IBM XT personal computer purchased by NLM's Bibliographic Services Division).  So you dialed into a commercial telecommunications company (NLM had contracts with two), and linked into the database.  Lots of people made money off of that government investment. 

I was there when access was opened up to physicians.  Without training.   Highly controversial within the organization.  At the time, I was the assistant editor of the NLM Technical Bulletin, the newsletter that was sent monthly to everyone with an access code.  In the course of a year, the number that we sent out increased by a factor of ten.

One of my projects at the end of my Associate year was to investigate whether or not videodiscs (twelve inch platters encoded in an analog format) would be a good vehicle for distributing information in the event of toxic waste spills.  They weren't, but in the course of my investigations I became aware of the five inch "compact optical discs" that Phillips & Sony had recently developed and were trying to find a commercial use for.   I calculated the number of discs that would be required to hold the entire MEDLINE database and suggested, in the formal presentation that capped the year, that they could be used as a distribution medium.  It seemed pretty far-fetched, but I thought it was a fun idea.

The commercial outfits always complained about competition from NLM.  One of the ironies of capitalism is that while competition is the essential engine, every capitalist hates competitors.  And having the government as a competitor is worst of all.  But NLM never put anybody out of business, and the investments that were made in MEDLARS and MEDLINE were the foundation of the search industry. 

It was a government agency that developed the internet in the first place.  The Defense Department wanted a communications network that could survive a nuclear attack.  Tim Berners-Lee worked for a government funded organization when he invented the world wide web.

So it's hard for me to get too freaked out about government intrusions into the marketplace.  Public health insurance option putting private companies out of business?  I don't think so.  Public access to federally funded research destroying the STM industry?  Probably not.

Colleagues and Mountains

Each MLA Chapter has its own, very distinctive, personality that informs the tone of its annual conference.  There are superficial similarities -- everybody has a keynote address, usually there are contributed papers, there's a business meeting at some point.  But the intangible essence of what the members go to the conference for and what they hope to get out of it can be strikingly different.  Lynn sees this more acutely than most, since she generally gets to at least three or four different chapter meetings each fall. 

Midcontinental, which covers the largest geographic area but has fewer members than most chapters, prides itself on its informality and its frontier spirit.  These people cherish the mountains and the high plains.  For some of these librarians, this is the one time of the year that they get to hang out with colleagues, and the relaxed meeting schedule reflects that, with long breaks and plenty of unscheduled time.

Which is not to imply that the program is an afterthought.  This year, in particular, the program committee's done a superb job, with a real heavy-hitter as the keynote speaker this morning (which is why I'm up and getting ready to hit the shower even though it was close to two in the morning by the time we finally got to bed after the late drive in from Denver).  T.R. Reid is one of the most knowledgeable and sensible writers on the state of healthcare in America today.  If the angry mobs at the Town Hall meetings would stop shouting themselves blue in the face and take a few minutes to pay attention to some of the facts that he is so good at presenting, we might be actually having a sensible debate about what we should be doing as a nation.  Sigh.

Anyway, it'll be a real treat to hear him speak and to spend some time in the company of a small, but passionately dedicated group of colleagues.  With mountains as a backdrop.  And snow!

Breckenridge Again

Lisa says the snow in Breckenridge is beautiful.  She sent a picture. 

Snow and yellow trees

I'm plenty eager to get out of the swamp that Alabama has turned into these past couple of weeks.  Endless rain, temperatures in the mid-eighties.  The sun struggles to clear a bit of sky every afternoon but the thick gray clouds are too much for it.  We get up every morning to look out the window and see if the lake is splashing over the dock yet.

Twenty-one years ago tomorrow I was at NLM presenting the results of our evaluation of MEDLINE on CD-ROM -- a radically new concept at the time.  It was there that I first spoke about the "inept, but satisfied, end-user."  I flew straight from DC to Colorado and while sitting on a panel just a couple of days later, heard the woman sitting next to me use the same phrase, which she'd heard "just last week at NLM."  It apparently escaped her that she'd heard it from me.

That's when I figured I'd better write it up.  The brief essay appeared in Medical Reference Services Quarterly the following spring and has by far the most citations in Web of Science of anything else I've ever written.  In Australia a couple of weeks ago, Diane mentioned that she still uses the essay in the classes she teaches.  I'm proud of it, and amused.  Who'd've imagined that tossed-off phrase would have such staying power?

I'd flown over the Appalachians a few times by then, but I'd never seen the Rockies.  In the van on the way from the Denver airport I was quiet, just watching the scenery.  My first morning in Breckenridge, when I first opened my eyes, I looked out the window to see the mountains touched by the dawn light.  And I lay there, for a long time, without moving, as the light crept up the hills, changing the colors from purple to orange to gold.  I hadn't known until that very moment that "purple mountains majesty" wasn't a poetic image.  Just a literal description.

It was my second MCMLA meeting and I was beginning to make some of the friendships that have lasted now for decades.  That was the year I met MEY on the dance floor.   I was wearing a shiny green sharkskin suit and red deck shoes.  It is fortunate that few pictures survive from those days.

As far as I knew at the time, I was quite happily married.  And yet it was only seven years later that Lynn and I got married at an MCMLA welcome reception (we were even listed in the program).  In twenty-two years I've only missed one meeting, choosing to go to Brazil for the ICML congress in 2005.  Last year we had to leave Cody early, when the call came about Lynn's mom, but I still count it as having been there.

It's the perfect blend of professional and personal.  A few years ago, when I got to the registration table, I found there'd been some kind of a mixup and they'd never received my payment.  The woman at the desk gave me the registration packet anyway,  saying, "Oh, nevermind.  We know you're here every year."   Of course.

Getting It Right

The MEDLIB-L discussion list has been tremendously valuable over the years, particularly for solo librarians.   But it's frustrating as well, and probably spreads as much misinformation as enlightenment.   Case in point, last week:

A question is posted to the list wondering if it is true that if physicians provide their personal copies of journals to the library, "we can't add them to our catalog, bind them, etc."  I'd written a JMLA editorial years ago on the topic, so I responded by referencing that, and pointed out that once a gift has been made to the library (assuming the gift is legitimate), the library can treat that material the same way that it treats material acquired in any other fashion (we've had that point verified by University counsel several times).

Later in the day, the original poster put up a summary thanking people for the many replies received and including this nugget:

Gifts should not be lended, or included in SERHOLD, Docline or other consortial list.  (even here there is some disagreement, with some asserting that gifts are the library's and should be used how we see fit, and others asserting that it would violate copyright to provide materials that we don't in fact own)

This isn't a matter of disagreement.  Somebody is wrong.

So I posted a polite follow-up, asking for more discussion from the people who feel that gifts should not be lent.  I really wanted to know what some people thought the copyright issues were.  I think they're wrong, but I thought it would be useful to get some kind of explanation for that view.

Alas.  There were two subsequent posts, both agreeing with what I'd said.  Nothing from whoever it might've been whose replies to the original request had resulted in the item in the summary.  Presumably, those whoevers would've seen my follow-up, but for whatever reasons, chose not to respond, either to the list or to me individually.   I assume they weren't very confident about the veracity of their answers.

So the original question remains unanswered, but the summary now sits there in the list archives.  I can forsee the question coming up again, when some librarian is having a conversation with colleagues about how to handle gifts.   "It's okay to accept them, but it's a copyright violation to lend them.  I saw that on MEDLIB-L."

Folklore.   We base way too many of our policy decisions on library folklore.