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What is a Standard?

Standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines, or definitions of characteristics, to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. They are documents that have been developed and approved in accordance with established standardization procedures and applies collectively to regulatory standards, test methods, and voluntary industry standards.

Engineers, inventors, manufacturers and contractors, insurers, governmental bodies, attorneys and consumers (like homeowners) all rely on standards to assure that buildings, bridges, cars, roads, all sorts of products and goods are safe and usable--and that the people responsible for their design, production, and construction can be held accountable.

Probably the most significant standard ever developed in the United States, however, was the railroads' standard track gauge. This standard, now used in Great Britain, the U.S., Canada and much of continental Europe, enables railroad rolling stock to cross the country.

Locating Standards

The History of Standards

Learning About Standards

Learn about the worldwide history of standards usage.

Standards & Specifications Database

  • Standards at TCCL

    The Research Center Department maintains a collection of standards and specifications from various organizations, including American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Tulsa City-County Library's Standards Database provides searchable access to the Research Center's collection of standards. Many of theses are kept in the Vertical File cabinets in the Research Center. Others are classified by their Dewey Decimal Number and searchable in the library catalog.

Resources to Identify Standards

  • Acquisition Streamlining and Standardization Information System (ASSIST)

    Provides access to Defense and Federal specifications and standards.

  • IHS Global Engineering

    A commercial clearinghouse for US and international engineering and technical standards, specifications, codes, and training manuals. More than one million documents from over 460 organizations worldwide.

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

    Government agency responsible for the accreditation of laboratories within the United States. Includes information including standards, reference materials and programs, and measurement and standards laboratories.

  • National Resource for Global Standards (NSSN)

    A search engine providing users with standards-related information from a wide range of developers, including organizations accredited by ANSI, other U.S. private sector standards bodies, government agencies and international organizations.

  • OnePetro

    An online library of techncal literature for the oil and gas exploration and production industry.

  • Scientific and Technical Information Network (STINET)

    One of the Department of Defense's largest repositories of scientific, research, and engineering information. Contains a variety of classified and unclassified citations from late 1974 to the present.

  • Techstreet

    Provides engineers, librarians and technical professionals with efficient, convenient, reliable access to mission-critical industry codes and standards. Resource for industry codes and standards from around the world. It is a search and pay per view service.

Standards Organizations Web Sites