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Oakville’s A Day In The Life Project

ADayintheLife_18-12-01psdStarting on Saturday, Oakville Public Library’s fourth annual A Day In The Life photo project launches.

Using the VITA Digital Toolkit‘s Contribution module, OPL gathers photographs from the community snapped within a 24-hour period (allowing a week for community members to upload and describe their works) and shares them in their VITA collection – they’re also curated into a virtual exhibit for viewing by year. So far they’ve built up their collections with hundreds of submitted photographs from all over the community!

I asked Elise Cole, Local Collections Librarian and head of the initiative, a few questions about how it works:

ODW: Can you tell us how the project first started? 

EC: I’ve always been personally fascinated with the book A Day in the Life of Canada. I wanted to find a way to build on our heritage images collected by the library and other heritage organizations and provide Oakvillians with a way to capture the beauty of this community and share it with others. I keep telling my colleagues, today’s photos are tomorrow’s history!

I’ve noticed that in particular with a couple of historical images of the (now VIA Rail) train station with another taken more recently: a postcard and an image from the Town versus an image submitted for our initial A Day in the Life of Oakville 2015.

The VITA Contribution module had already been introduced before 2015 when I finally received permission from Administration to proceed. It has always been digital, though one submission was scanned from a print in the first year.

Has participation changed since the first year you started doing this? What has the feedback from the community been like? 

The first two years saw the most participation with similar numbers of images having been submitted in 2015 and 2016. 2017 dropped off because of the weather. I had set the date for September 25 with the expectation that we’d be in the beginning of fall colours, cooler temperatures, etc. It was over 40 degrees with the humidex that day and it felt as if you were melting even when in the shade!

The 2015 and 2016 projects were both in the summer when I had my Digital Heritage Assistant available to approve the images and build the subsequent galleries. I did get some feedback from the community that the images all looked the same – to really reflect Oakville’s beauty, we needed to offer images taken in different seasons so that landscapes and photo subjects would vary. It made sense to me, and so I started to move it around.

This year, I wasn’t sure if we’d get fall or winter photos, but I’m hoping that through the marketing campaign on social media, people will get the idea to include night shots with Christmas lights, and to feature snow if we have some again by the weekend. Our program guide went to press in the summer, so it was a true guess as to what the weather would be come December 1!

Did you have any conversations around copyright and privacy as you were planning the project? 

As the Copyright Coordinator for OPL, yes, copyright was definitely a consideration. The contribution module by default puts the images under a Creative Commons license, and our Administration opted to put all images submitted under the copyright of the contributor. We require photo consent forms (PDF link) to be submitted if any people in the image are identifiable, or we won’t accept the image. It has taken time for those forms to be submitted sometimes, so we just leave the images as non-public until the forms arrive.

Privacy is otherwise covered by the module itself since contributors can opt out of having their names included. We also hoped more people, including photographers, would want to get involved knowing that.

Is the library using the submitted photos in any way? 

Only very occasionally at this time, but I’m hoping that will change as we move to a new website in 2019 as well as other means of communications. We do have the galleries featured on the Oakville Images search page.


My thanks to Elise for telling us about the project! If you’d like to do a similar project using the VITA Contribution module, get in touch – we’d love to help you set it up and think about how to engage your community.

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