Libraries across Wiltshire have more volunteers than anywhere else in the south-west, according to a new report.

The 754 volunteers, more than 300 higher than second-placed Plymouth, last year gave 26,699 hours of their time working in Wiltshire’s 31 branch libraries and five mobile libraries.

All the branch facilities also offer public access Wi-Fi, again making Wiltshire the best in the south-west in the Public Library Statistics for 2012/13 published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountancy (CIPFA).

Readers also borrowed more e-books, 17,022, than anywhere else throughout the region. In fact, Wiltshire is in the top four, out of 15 local authorities, for all 16 categories in the CIPFA statistics.

Jonathon Seed, cabinet member for libraries, said: “Our volunteers play a vital role in our libraries and I welcome this opportunity to publicly thank them, and the staff working alongside them, for their valuable contribution and dedication which has enabled us to keep all our libraries open.

“We recognise that this is not the case in other local authority areas and it is down to these volunteers that we have not had to reduce this valuable service and in some libraries we now offer extended opening times.

“The fact that the CIPFA data shows Wiltshire’s libraries are the best, or among the best, across the full range of measures is a testament to the innovative ways we have developed to ensure those libraries remain a vibrant part of the local communities they serve.”

Other key statistics in the CIPFA report show:

• Salisbury was Wiltshire’s busiest library with 431,577 visitors, who borrowed 345,841 items

• Salisbury was the second busiest library in the whole south-west behind only Truro for visitor numbers and Exeter for number of items borrowed

• In 2012/13, Wiltshire had 80,325 active borrowers – the fourth highest in the south-west

• 94.2 percent of adults surveyed in the county’s libraries rated the choice of books as good or very good – the second highest after South Gloucestershire (96.0 percent)

• Library visitors borrowed 848,895 children’s books (fiction and non-fiction) and 74,311 videos and DVDs – the third highest totals in each case

• 68 percent of borrowers’ requests for items are supplied within seven days – the fourth highest in the south-west

• Employee costs account for just 45.1 percent of gross expenditure on libraries – the lowest in the south-west

• Only volunteers in Cornwall gave more hours (28,032) than those in Wiltshire