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What are standards?

  • Standards are published documents that establish provisions, procedures and protocols to ensure reliability of a product, method or service.
  • Standards are published by standards bodies. Examples of standards bodies include the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), CSA Group, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and ASTM International.
  • By establishing consistent universally accepted protocols, standards ensure:
    • Product/service development, compatibility, interoperability and credibility.
    • User safety and public health.
  • Standards are useful for comparing competing products and services.

How do I find standards?

  • Standards have unique associated codes, which can be used as access points.
  • The format of the code varies somewhat from one publisher to another, but the first letters generally identify the body that created the standard. 
  • Sometimes standards are jointly issued by two standards bodies.
    • Example: CSA B651-04, IEEE Std 610.13-1993, ANSI/ASME N509-2002.
  • Standards can also be searched for by subject, category, or committee. 
  • Standards go through a development cycle. Some databases and websites provide access to standards at different stages (i.e. active; draft; redline; withdrawn; etc.).
  • The word ‘standards’ has been used interchangeably with ‘specifications’, ‘regulations’, and ‘codes.’
  • Note: Standards are usually not available free of charge. The Library subscribes to some standards databases. Inter-library loan is not available for standards. We suggest that users purchase their own copy from the appropriate standards body if it is not available through the Library.

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