The Edmonton Public Library says it has attracted thousands of new people with an offer of free library cards, part of the institution’s centennial celebrations.

"I'm really excited to be able to renew mine for free and to renew hers for free and I think the more people in our society to have library cards the better. It's a great initiative," said Heather MacKenzie, who spent part of Thursday afternoon with her daughter at the downtown branch.

She was one of the 6,000 people who signed up for new cards or renewed their old ones since the offer started earlier this month.

"We're still seeing at least a ten percent increase each day but its closer to fifty percent compared to our normal new memberships on a day," said Vicky Varga,  associate manager of circulation.

"On the thirteenth, which was the day of our centennial birthday party, we saw ten times as many people renew cards and get new library cards which is just unbelievable."

Varga says the library has been aggressively pursuing people who might not usually make it into a branch, using vans and pop-up locations in places like LRT stations and the International Airport.

"We are going to be behind security even so as people are waiting for their planes we'll be able to sign them up for cards. We're even taking materials with us so they can check out a book right then and there for their plane ride."