What is VITA?

VITA (Video, Image, Text and Audio) is a web based toolkit for building, managing and displaying digital collections. VITA lets you upload digital objects and create full descriptions then display them with sophisticated search, browse, and other interactive features for users and end users. Every object is made available on a hosted customizable site created specifically for your organization’s collections. Explore the features and functionality of collections built using VITA by clicking here.

What is VINTA?

VINTA (Video, Image, Newspapers, Text and Audio) is everything VITA plus full run newspapers. VINTA lets you upload every manner of digital object. See our sample sites here.

What can I do using VITA?

VITA has many features and functions for users and administrators including:

  • Video, image, text and audio file display and hosting
  • Full metadata record creation
  • Geographic mapping using Google Maps
  • Interactive features like electronic postcards, posing mystery questions and user comment forms
  • Multiple sizes of image display
  • Virtual exhibits and group record management
  • Powerful data management tools, statistical information gathering
  • Community user forum
  • Easy tools for accepting public contributions

And it’s easy to use!

How do users discover my collection?

Every record created in VITA that is made public can be discovered through a locally branded website and on the World Wide Web via search engines like Google. Every item in your collection gets lots of exposure, and so does your organization.
Ontario organizations’ content automatically flows into the portal and Ontario News Portal. One-click CMR export means Canadian organizations can include their content in other provincial portals (e.g. BC’s West Beyond the West) and the national portal. Other regional portals are also available such as the Illinois Newspaper Collection or talk to us about creating your regional site! Organizations can use export functions to include their data in other spaces of their choice.

I’ve already started digitizing my collection, can I still use VITA?

For digital collections that are underway or in another system it is possible to transfer the existing collection metadata (catalogue) records into the VITA index. Ingesting your data and files into VITA lets you manage and display your existing content in a fresh, functional way. Let us help you determine what the best choice is for your organization by telling us about your digital content. Contact us!

What about contributor attribution for collection objects?

Every contributing agency has a profile in VITA, so when they upload a record, it is their contact information that displays on the record itself. Even in multi-agency sites, every individual agency’s objects are attributed to them as the contributor.

How can the public submit items to display on our site?

Invite public contributions in two ways: 1) Activate the Contribution Module on your VITA site. The module is a form that lets people upload stories (transcribed text) or files (JPG, GIF, PNG or TIF). The contributor can then add descriptive, geolocation and contact information. You decide when those contributions become part of your collection and how to display them. Here’s an example. 2) Individuals in the community can contact your organization about adding their personal collections. Having you upload them ensures that the objects in scattered collections are digitized and described consistently and using best practices and brought together for easy discovery, but the individual still maintains control over the hard copy of the object. As part of support documentation, we provide a handbook for holding “digitization days” to encourage community involvement and participation with their personal collection items.

I need more information about digitizing my newspaper collection

If you’re just starting to think about digitizing your newspapers, OurDigitalWorld offers an all-in-one newspaper digitization service. That means we’ll do all the heavy lifting to get your newspapers online. Need more information about the process? Check out the ODW Digitizing Newspaper Collections: A Primer video and other resources for project planning. If you’re deliberating about moving away from microfilm, check out our Microfilm to Megabytes scenarios and use the DIY cost calculator!

Software features

What about copyright?

All VITA Toolkit users (or Subscribers) retain all rights and editorial control over the material they upload and make accessible using VITA. Records may be updated, changed or deleted by the Subscriber at any time via the web interface. All digital content uploaded to the VITA Toolkit remains the property of the Subscriber. Subscribing to the VITA Toolkit service requires no transfer of copyright of the digital content. See our Copyright FAQ for more information about determining copyright of your collection items before putting them online.

Can we create non-public collections?

Yes, non-public groups of records can be viewed by users with a valid login and password; however, because this access is to the data management side of the toolkit, this does give them access to the entire collection. Or, you can use the non-public virtual exhibition option so groups of records can be viewed using a specific URL.

Can sub-collections have their own customized web interface?

With multiple “sites” you can scope sites to certain media types i.e. just your newspaper collection, separate from your multimedia archival displays. Or use the virtual exhibit module to highlight a collection with a separate interface.

Can we upload PDFs and will they be searchable?

Yes, you can upload PDFs as a single object or have the tool split multipage objects into individual pages for page-by-page browsing and discovery. PDFs and other native text documents will also have their text auto-extracted for full text searchability on the public site.

How do we protect our public collection images from being used improperly?

VITA provides many ways for you to encourage users to re-use your materials legally and with proper attribution. With VITA, you can identify the copyright status of each object, assign Creative Commons fair-share attribution licensing, as well as state terms of use, reproduction information and provide citations for the public to copy and paste for proper attribution.

Fees & Service

Can I add storage to my existing plan?

Yes, if you exceed your hosting allowance, additional hosting can be purchased at 5GB for $75/year.

Is the fee for newspaper service based on digitized pages or index records?

The charge per page in the designated News plan is for digitized newspaper pages. Every year, before renewal date, the total number of newspaper pages in your collection is calculated and will be added to your subscription. The cost is $0.03 per page to cover annual hosting, backups and multiple display files.

Simple index records and clipping collections can be uploaded as part of the regular hosting allotment in the News Basic (1 GB).

How can I get the hit highlighting for my digital newspapers?

Come on over to the hit highlighting info page to learn more, or if you’re wondering about managing your digitized newspapers using VITA, check out our Newspaper Digitization FAQ.

Limited accounts: What if I only want to actively use the system for a short time? What happens to my collection after?

If you are working on a grant or other short term funding source, you can subscribe to VITA one year at a time for active access to build and manage your collections, then drop down to an annual Limited account. The Limited account means your custom site and collection will be maintained for online discovery but you can only review and approve comments. Limited accounts are available at the following rates:

  • VITA Basic = $120/yr Limited
  • VITA Standard = $315/yr Limited
  • VITA Plus = $455/yr Limited
  • News Basic = $120/yr Limited
  • News Plus = $315 + 3 cents/pp per year Limited
  • VINTA = $525 + 3 cents/pp per year Limited

Your account can be reactivated any time during the Limited subscription period.


Can we display our VITA collection through our organization’s website?

The VITA toolkit includes a standalone website for the collection. It is through this interface that the collection is publicly displayed. Embedding a search widget for your VITA site onto your organizational website means people can search your collection directly or use the interactive header and branding to seamlessly link your digital collection site with your organizational website.

Can I export my records from VITA?

Yes. The VITA software can deliver all of your record content in XML format in a variety of export schema for your in-house storage, back up or migration into other systems and databases:

  • Dublin Core
  • VITA (everything)
  • MODS
  • RSS and ATOM
  • CMR (Canadiana Repository Metadata

Can we switch to VITA and migrate our records and files from another system?

Yes. We work with clients to map content across from a variety of schema. The key is how and in what format you can export from your existing system, e.g. XML, AccessDB, XLS, etc. Please contact us for more information about bringing an existing collection into VITA or if you’re working with existing indexes or full-run newspaper files.

What is…

What is the Google site map mentioned in the VITA Plus plan?

The Google site map is a file we will build and then upload to Google to optimize the discovery of your collection and catalogue your site via major search engines online.

What is the difference between Streaming Video and Hosted Video?

The difference in the two models impacts the end user not the contributing organization except in storage. Streaming video means the end user must download the video on their computer in order to watch it. The VITA Plus video hosting feature allows the end user to stream the video without downloading like YouTube does.

What is meant by “web pages”?

The web pages included in the VITA plans are optional HTML pages for providing extra information about Plus sites, like this. For Plus users, the web pages are above and beyond the “About” page provided to every agency.

What are “multilingual sites“?

The VITA end user interface is available in full English and French languages right now — the templates are built and can be turned on during site set up. The French template is pre-populated with verified French terminology, but can be customized to any language (that reads top-to-bottom, left-to-right) and run in parallel to enable the end user to click for a fully bilingual experience.

What is a “Contributor agency“?

Every agency who is part of your project or collaboration and who is using VITA to upload collections to the site is a contributor agency. Contributor agencies profiles are kept separate within VITA so they can be identified at the record level as the organization whose collection item is being viewed, even when they are contributing to a common site. E.g. VITA Standard plans means two agencies can work together and display their collections together through shared sites — e.g. a regional site that’s available in French and English. e.g. West Nipissing Our History/ Nipissing Ouest Notre Histoire

What is the difference between Full Run newspapers and a news Index?

If you digitize (i.e. scan and even OCR) every page from a series of issues all linked to a certain publication, that’s what is considered “full run” newspapers. With VITA News Plus, these relationships are graphically as well as functionally established so every publication and every issue with its many pages and all article-level records can be linked together. A news Index is a group of text records—sometimes with scanned clippings—that capture certain parts of a newspaper page or pages, e.g. articles, Birth, Marriage and Death records, advertisements, etc. The index may contain just dates, page number and a title or there may be a full transcription of the content of the article being indexed. See more about how these appear here.


See also Terms of Service and Definitions of terms for more information.