Ditching library-card fees has paid off in Calgary, with a 33-per-cent increase in registered card holders and the lost revenue being recovered in generous donations.

Card fees were waived just over a year ago and Calgary Public Library CEO Bill Ptacek said the timing couldn't have been better.

"Who could have predicted that the economy would be what it is today?" said Ptacek. "What better time could there be for more people to access the library than right now?"

The $12 annual fee wasn't steep but it was a hassle to renew every year and more of a mental barrier, Ptacek believes.

Officials were prepared for $1.4 million in lost revenue in exchange for more Calgarians taking advantage of library resources, and that's exactly what they got with 133,000 new users in 2015.

"The thing we're interested in is making sure that everyone in Calgary has a library card," Ptacek said.

Donations were received in record amounts both in dollars and the number of people making contributions, he noted, making up for the lost revenue.

"Books and reading and going to the library needs to be a part of the fabric of the community," Ptacek said.