A colleague posted a newspaper article covering the Inspector General’s report outlining the extravagant spending on conferences by the Department of Justice (DOJ). This included spending “$16 on each of the 250 muffins served at an August 2009 legal conference in Washington” and $600,000 for events planning for five conferences.(Allen, 2011) In fact, the DOJ’s exceeded its own spending limits, spending $121 million on conferences for the fiscal 2008 and 2009 year (Allen , 2011).
It is unacceptable that schools and libraries across the nation are forced to continue to provide “quality” services to the public on budgets which are continuly reduced, and yet there is money for the DOJ to feast on $16 Muffins and $8 cups of coffee. It goes without saying that education is vital to the nation and that without access to knowledge and discussion it is impossible to safeguard democracy. Yet, the DOJ, Senate and House of representatives (which provide oversight) believe their conferences are more important over the services provided by schools and libraries. Keep this arrogance in mind, my fellow librarians and citizens next time you hear of a “necessary” budget cut.
But, perhaps it is time to stop being disgusted and resigned. We cannot blame the senators if they are ignorant of the importance of libraries. Therefore, we must pass a law mandating those who represent our interests at all levels of government must have a library card and go into a library on a regular basis! Hopefully then, these senators and DOJ officials will be able to understand why librarians and libraries are more awesome then $16 Muffins.
Allen, JoAnne (2011, September 21). $16 muffins, $8 coffee served in Justice Audit. Rueters. http://news.yahoo.com/16-muffins-8-coffee-served-justice-audit-023623142.html