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Jeanette Winterson calls for library expansion

20th November 2012

Jeanette Winterson has called for the UK's library network to be expanded, arguing the cost could be funded by using the hundreds of millions of pounds in profit which Amazon, Starbucks and Google have been accused of diverting from the UK.

In a speech at the British Library, the award-winning author also said libraries should be taken out of local council leisure budgets and put into the national education budget.

'Either we stop arguing and agree that libraries are doing their best to reinvent themselves, and that with a bit of help, financial and ideological - they belong to the future, or we let them run down until they disappear,' the Oranges are Not the Only Fruit author said.

'Who is going to pay for this new expanding network of libraries? Libraries cost about £1 billion to run right now. Make it £2 billion and charge Google, Amazon and Starbucks all that back tax on their profits here.'

The three firms were recently questioned by a committee of MPs about tax avoidance. They have paid little UK corporation tax, but argue that they operate within tax rules.

Winterson, recently appointed a professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester, added that putting post offices and crèches in libraries would increase the number of people visiting them.

She was speaking at the inaugural Reading Agency Lecture to mark the charity's tenth anniversary.

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