Information Literacy

Estela Mastromatteo
Incorporated contributions
Mastromatteo (11/2009)
Usage domain
ICT, information society, globalisation, education
Maîtrise de l'information
German Informationskompetenz 

Several terms such as information literacy, literacy in information and development of information skills or information competencies are used interchangeably to identify competencies, skills, aptitudes, knowledge, personal experiences and required values to access, use, and communicate information in any medium (digital or paper) for academic, research, professional or entertainment purposes. 

Translating this term into Spanish has brought about different concepts and definitions such as information competencies (competencias informacionales), information literacy (alfabetización informacional), literacy in information (alfabetización en información). However, the term most frequently used in Spanish is “desarrollo de habilidades informativas” (development of information skills) (Lau, 2006). To refer to information literacy in Spanish, the acronym ALFIN is generally used. This acronym was coined by Félix Benito in 1995. In English, the acronym INFOLIT is generally used. 

Information literacy is considered a means to develop one of UNESCO’s  four pillars for education in the 21st century: learning to know about something, long life learning, training people to manage information needs to search, assess, use and optimize information to solve problems and make decisions. INFOLIT is considered a pre-requisite to participate actively and effectively in the knowledge society. Furthermore, it is part of the basic human rights for long life learning and promotes social inclusion in every nation. OECD and European of Higher Education Area (EHEA) include information literacy as one of the basic competencies for any citizen. 

INFOLIT is understood as the knowledge and capacity to use in a reflective fashion, intentionally and ethically, the set of concepts , procedures, and attitudes involved in the process of searching, obtaining, assessing, using and communicating information through online and mainstream media. Literacy in information is a set of abilities that enable people “to recognize when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information” (ALA, 1989). Literacy in information exceeds the concept related to user training and it affects content as well as pedagogy.  It entails the development of technical skills required to access, analyze and assess information (Aragón, 2005). 

Overall, the term “alfabetización”, a translation from the English word “literacy”, is applied to the capacity to use different media, technologies or languages. Thus, we can talk about technology literacy (capacity to handle information technology and communication), digital (hypertext media domain and Internet), audiovisual literacy (capacity to understand and criticize audiovisual media and languages), scientific literacy (science domain and its mechanisms to create, transmit and apply information) among others. A crucial objective of lifelong literacy entails digital and INFOLIT basic read-write literacy integrating this with lifelong learning.

  • ARAGÓN, I. (2005) "Formación de usuarios y alfabetización en información". La biblioteca universitaria: análisis en su entorno híbrido. L. Orera O., ed. Madrid: Editorial Síntesis.
  • COMISIÓN INTERNACIONAL SOBRE LA EDUCACIÓN PARA EL SIGLO XXI; DELORS, J., PRES. (2000) La educación encierra un tesoro. [En línea] París: Unesco. <[Consulta: 19/05/09]
  • LAU, J. (2000). Desarrollo de habilidades informativas en instituciones de educación superior. México: Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.
  • LAU, J. (2004) Directrices internacionales para la alfabetización informativa: propuesta.  [En línea] México: IFLA, Universidad Veracruzana. <> [Consulta: 19/05/09]
  • LAU, J. (2006). Directrices sobre el desarrollo de habilidades informativas para el aprendizaje permanente.La Haya: IFLA.
  • PINTO, M; SALES, D.; OSORIO, P. (2008). Biblioteca universitaria, CRAI y alfabetización informacional. Gijón: Ediciones Trea.
  • UNESCO. (1998) Declaración Mundial sobre la Educación Superior en el Siglo XXI: visión y acción.Conferencia Mundial sobre la Educación Superior. [En línea] <ís1.htm[Consulta: 21/09/09]
  • UNESCO-IFLA. (2005) Declaración de Alejandría sobre la alfabetización informacional y el aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida. [En línea] <> [Consulta: 21/09/09]
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Estela Mastromatteo (11/2009)
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