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Charge Amazon, Starbucks and Google unpaid tax to fund libraries, says Winterson | Books | guardian.co.uk

… She also suggested that libraries be removed from local councils’ leisure budgets and put into the national education budget. “If we want libraries to take their place – I think their proper place in modern society – we can’t make them compete with sports centres for resources,” she said. “Libraries are doing more education work than ever. Libraries and literacy cannot be separated, I don’t see how this can be classed as ‘leisure’ nor do I see how we have a choice between getting our bins emptied and putting cash into libraries.”

Last week, as Newcastle council proposed closing 10 out of 18 of the city’s libraries, its director of libraries Tony Durcan said: “Public spending cuts mean the city council must make savings of £90m over the next three years, a third of our total budget. Faced with agonising decisions about child protection, care for the elderly and emptying bins – where do libraries, leisure centres and culture rank? I think we all know the answer.”

Winterson asked her audience if they believed in “the life of the mind – deep thought, concentration, reflection, real imagination – the expansion of the human spirit? Learning that is more than information? Creativity?”

If they did, she asked, “then for whom? For the middle classes? For the right kids at the right schools? If you do, then when – when we are rich, powerful, wealthy? Or as a priority whatever we are?” …

… Winterson is just one of many authors to have spoken out in defence of the UK’s libraries, 300 of which are currently estimated by the Public Libraries News website to be under threat or to have closed or left council control since April. Last week Philip Pullman, Julia Donaldson and Anne Fine were among the authors to attack plans to close Newcastle’s libraries. …

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