CILIP Information Literacy definition 2018 brochure

The definition I was looking for – information literacy

In our latest guest blog post, Dora Sales, Senior Lecturer at Jaume I University, in Spain talks about translating the latest CILIP definition of information literacy into Spanish.

I have been teaching the subject “Documentation applied to Translation” at university for sixteen years, always from the paradigm of information literacy (IL), and I feel it is more necessary than ever.[1]

Undoubtedly, as we know, information literacy is one of the pillars of lifelong learning. It is necessary for all disciplines, all learning environments and all educational levels, more and more. It always benefits those who enter it, because it promotes an empowerment and strengthening of the formative processes, and life in general. But the information society and its contexts are constantly changing, and information literacy is, therefore, an area in constant evolution, in permanent construction, which since its appearance in the academic context in the seventies of the twentieth century has been enriched with reflections and proposals that have matured in various parts of the world, and already covering, today, approaches from all five continents.

For this reason, taking into account the ever-changing information environment, always demanding a perspective of continuous training and pending the needs that arise, in 2016 the ACRL revised its model of Standards and proposed a suggestive and updated Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, which, among other aspects, enhances that students should prepare themselves to become informed citizens, in a critical and continuous manner.

The ACRL Framework proposes a thought-provoking conceptual and critical framework, focused on the academic context of higher education, for each institution to land it and develop training materials and programs. But I have long been looking for a definition of information literacy that would open up more clearly and explicitly to the whole environment in which it is so necessary. Therefore, I have recently translated into Spanish the original CILIP Definition of Information Literacy 2018,[2]with the purpose of disseminating it throughout the Spanish-speaking context: Spain and Latin America.

This definition, concise and highly comprehensive, is a real turning point, as it importantly updates what IL is and what IL implies, placing it with enormous success in five essential contexts: everyday life, citizenship, education, the workplace and health. It emphasizes that IL is relevant not only to education, but is of real value to anyone who needs and uses information.

IL gives people the ability to confront contents critically, to become more self-sufficient, and to take more control over their own information process. In order to handle the complexities of today’s information environment, a broadly based and complex concept of literacy is needed. IL should include all skills-based forms of literacy but should not limit itself to them or to any particular technology or set of technologies. Understanding purpose and context should be the core of IL training. In this respect, I consider the definition of CILIP 2018 to be an extraordinary step forward, that highlights the relevance of critical thinking as the basis of IL and the fact that it is a universal human right necessary in all walks of life.

In the subject “Documentation applied to Translation”, which is taught in the first or second year of the Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spain (in the case of my university, it is taught in the first year), I begin with an introduction to information literacy, to lay the foundations of the subject and its importance for training in Translation and Interpreting, for the students’ future professional development in this field.

Translation students need to put into practice a set of information competences to be able to do their work, the most significant being the search for, assessment, processing and creation of information. Translation is, above all, an expert communication activity that constantly requires information. Moreover, the nature of the information tends to be multilingual and culturally specific, belonging to a range of disciplines, depending on the text to be translated. Indeed, the translator’s documentary activity is a vital instrumental link in the chain of mediation and transfer of knowledge that makes up translation, an indispensable part of translational know-how. Documentary/Information competence is essential for the practice of translation, and therefore for the translator’s ongoing learning process. In short, to translate is to mediate between languages and cultures, to operate a constant decision-making procedure, and, above all, to know what documentation means. Otherwise, decision-making cannot be based on qualified information. If one is to translate, acquiring the right documentation means knowing how to identify the informational requirements of the text to be translated, and knowing how to find the appropriate solutions. In any process of transfer, the translator will have to develop information competence in addition to the other competences that make up what is known as translation competence as a whole.

The fact that the subject “Documentation applied to Translation” is taught at the very beginning of the degree curriculum has both advantages and disadvantages: it is an optimal way to make students aware of the relevance of information literacy as the basis of any translation task and to teach them the foundations. They are students who arrive at university with ample access to information and technologies available to them, but they do not know how to manage them in a discerning manner. It would, however, be necessary to reinforce this training with further subjects or complementary seminars taught in later courses, something which unfortunately does not occur at present, as this is the only subject on the matter that students have in the whole degree curriculum.

I organize the syllabus of the subject around seven bases, which I implement through participatory master classes in which I always try to generate a dynamic conversation, debate seminars, practical tasks and a project with which all the contents are put into dialogue and which also serves to promote extended writing. In summary, the bases of the subject are the following:


“Documentation applied to Translation”

Compulsory subject in the degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spain

(© Dora Sales. Jaume I University, Spain)

MODULE I. Fundamentals for Documentary Education

  1. Introduction: Staying informed in the information age. Information literacy
  2. Basic concepts on Documentation and Information management. Information search and analysis
  3. Scientific work. Structure and presentation of a work. Information compilation and presentation
  4. Relevance of the documentary competence in the framework of the translation competence

MODULE II. Information techniques and sources applied to Translation

5. Internet and information retrieval fundamentals. Critical assessment of online sources

  1. Information sources for Translation
  2. Documentation as translation ethics. Critical and quality perspective in Documentation applied to Translation

Of course, each of these bases is implemented in an integrated and interrelated way, in the holistic process of acquiring the documentary competence within the framework of the translation competence. In this holistic perspective, the first base is tremendously essential to lay the foundations, letting the students know what information literacy is. Thus, in recent years I have begun the course by explaining a succinct definition of informational literacy, inspired by the traditional definition of the ACRL Standards: an information-literate person is able to determine the extent of the information needed, access the required information effectively and efficiently, evaluate the information and its sources critically, incorporate selected information into their knowledge base, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information both ethically and legally.

After the brief introduction we develop a debate seminar for which I use examples of information needs in everyday life, the academic field in general and translation or interpreting tasks in particular, and for which students also have short readings that I select and make available in the Virtual Classroom, as well as audiovisual support material, such as, for example, the clip Are you lost in the world like me?(Moby & The Void Pacific Choir, 2016, free access on Youtube) which in recent years has proved to be very suggestive and productive for initiating a group debate on the infoxication that surrounds us and the emptiness of a world disconnected from what is important and the information that matters.

The next academic year, CILIP 2018 definition will undoubtedly be an essential part of this first seminar, which lays the foundations for the whole subject. I am convinced that it will be tremendously useful for students to understand the scope of information literacy in all its dimensions, and will be an important axis in the debate.

For those of you who have already used this definition as training material, what are your experiences and impressions?

Working in favour of information literacy always brings us into a suggestive, proactive and open terrain, since training in IL is one of the greatest educational challenges. Let’s go for it!

About Dora

Dora Sales is Senior Lecturer in the Information Studies area, Department of Translation and Communication, Jaume I University (Castellón, Spain). She holds a PhD in Translation Studies, with a dissertation on transcultural literatures, focusing on the Peruvian author José María Arguedas and the Indian Vikram Chandra. She is a literary translator, specialised in the field of postcolonial literature. She has also prepared critical editions of Latin American narrative texts and has written children’s literature. Her research deals mainly with documentation applied to translation studies, information literacy, and gender studies. She has published in journals such as Aslib.Journal of Information Management, College and Research Libraries, Journal of Academic Librarianship, Journal of Documentation, Journal of Information Science, portal, Scientometrics, The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, and Journal of Information Literacy, and publishing houses such as Elsevier and Trea, among others.Also, she has been the lead researcher of diverse projects on intercultural mediation resources, and has participated in several research projects on information literacy and the acquisition and development of information competences.

[1]In undergraduate university curricula in Spain, in addition to the degree in Information Studies, there are only a few degrees that include some specific subject on Documentation/Information applied to their fields: Translation and Interpreting, Journalism, Audiovisual Communication, Advertising &Public Relations, Medicine and Management &Public Administration.

[2]Spanish translation to be published in the journal Anales de Documentación. Forthcoming.

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