IICIIS, the Institute and IKIS, the Society

After IKIS (Gesellschaft für Informationskompetenz und Informationsinfrastruktur) was successfully established as an association under Austrian law, an institute was to be founded as its operational arm. In order to take into account the thematic width, the supranational significance and the origin of its second founder, Stephen Patriarca, it was given an English name – Institute for Information Competence and Information Infrastructure – IICIIS.

In doing so, we had to decide whether we should translate ‘Informationskompetenz’ with ‘information competence’ or rather with ‘information literacy’, which is more commonly used in English. In spoken terms, ‘IICIIS’ certainly has a higher recognition value with reference to the parent Association ‘IKIS’ than ‘IILIIS’. Nevertheless, linguistic correctness should win over marketing considerations.

For the following reasons, we finally decided on the more unusual version with ‘information competence’.

If one considers ‘information competence’ and ‘information literacy’ as synonyms, ‘information literacy’ (with approx. 4 million Google hits) dominates over ‘information competence’ (with approx. 32,600 Google hits) or ‘information competency’ (with approx. 36,400 Google hits) by far.

However, when ‘information competence’ and ‘information literacy’ are not used as synonyms, a subtle cultural difference appears, which also reflects different approaches – a process-oriented and a results-oriented approach respectively.

German: Informationskompetenz

In German (as in other languages), the teaching or acquisition of ‘information competence’ makes the learner ‘information competent’. Competence as a learning outcome can be defined as a teaching and learning goal and be standardised, measured and compared. This means that the concept fits seamlessly into the Bologna Process. The German term ‘Informationskompetenz’ implicitly refers to the process of competence transfer, i.e. the transfer of knowledge and skills by a teacher.

We do not have a separate German term for ‘information literacy’.

English: Information Literacy

The English ‘information literacy’ refers to the knowledge and skills that make the learner ‘information literate’ (results-oriented approach). Instead of the transfer process (as in the concept of the Teaching Library), the learning outcome of self-determined learning (as in the concept of the Learning Library) prevails.

‘Information competence’ as a technical term also exists in English but is used with the outcome of a teaching process on one’s mind (similar to the German notion).

Now you might dismiss that as a quibble.

Our name is programme.

Be it information literacy or information competence – Our institute’s name is our programme: IICIIS is dedicated to promoting and facilitating information competence in co-operation with the national information infrastructure institutions (not just libraries).

IKIS forms the appropriate platform as an association of individuals and institutions who want to participate in the exchange of opinions, the formation of strategies and the definition of goals as well as further develop their own information competence.