Industry standards are manufacturer's requirements for products and processes (example: requirements for the size and shape of the pipe that your bath water flows through). Standards come in all shapes and sizes and may also be called specifications, codes, recommended practices, guides or handbooks. Standards (in all their forms) dictate measurements, processes and performance. Some standards are mandatory; some are voluntary. Standards are used by businesses of all kinds -- from manufacturers making products and architects designing buildings to attorneys engaged in lawsuits.

One of the major standards granting organizations is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This umbrella organization sponsors the publication of hundreds of standards each year submitted by such agencies as Underwriter's Laboratories (UL), American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

The largest publicly accessible standards collection in Minnesota are at the University of Minnesota's Science and Engineering Library and at the Minneapolis Public Library, Science and Technology Department. Together, these libraries have thousands of standards, both current and obsolete, which were collected over forty years by several libraries. Each library has catalogs and indexes to allow subject searching for standards.

Copies of standards can be requested through interlibrary loan if the type of standard needed and its number are known. If the number is not known, contact your reference center for a subject search. If the patron is unwilling to wait for a copy of the standard to arrive through interlibrary loan, they may contract directly with the fee-based services at the University or at Minneapolis Public to determine which standard is needed, where it is located, and to copy it.

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The page was updated December 5, 2003.