Grainger Engineering Library Information Center
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Finding Standards Information at the University of Illinois

If you desire or need assistance in performing a standards search, please contact the Grainger Engineering Library via:
Telephone: 244-7826
The Web: Grainger Web Reference Form



Table of Contents Standards Explained

Generally, standards are rules, techniques and conditions for engineering design, industrial practices, units of measurement, terminology, etc. Standards can be mandatory or voluntary. Think of standards as rules for uniformity, size, quality, performance, shape, definition and testing methodology of manufactured products.

Specifications are concise statements of requirements for materials, products or services that are to be purchased by an industry or government agency. Specifications are limited to a project or agency. Standards are specifications that are recognized as the most practical and appropriate current solution, that is agreed upon by a recognized authority, for a recurring problem.

Most standards are created by professional societies or governmental organizations. Many countries also have national organizations which coordinate standardization. The most prominent countries with national standards organizations are: American National Standards Institute (ANSI), British Standards Institute (BSI), the Deutsches Institut fur Normung (DIN), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and the Association Francaise de Normalisation (AFNOR).

There is also the International Standards Organization (ISO); ISO is a non-governmental organization that both creates and approves international standards. ISO deals with all subject areas except electrical and electrotechnical matters which are handled by the International Electrotechnical Association (IEC).

Option One: Search Online Databases
The most convenient and efficient first step in searching for standards is to search national standards bodies collections over the web. The two major United States standards bodies are the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Both of these standards organizations provide searchable databases for their vast standards collections via the web. You can search by keyword, subject, or standard number on both sites and retrieve standards citations relavant to your given topic. The ANSI collection is a good place to begin, as ANSI is considered the official standard issuing organization of the United States.

If you locate a standard of interest to you by searching the ANSI or ASTM collections, simply bring the standard number and title to the Reference Desk on the first floor of Grainger. Grainger has a large collection of ANSI and ASTM standards located on the first floor directly north of the circulation desk. The Grainger Reference Staff will be happy to direct you to the ANSI and/or ASTM standards and provide instructions on locating specific standards in each collection.

Option Two: Use Specific Standards Catalogs
Your second option in locating standards is to visit the Grainger Reference Desk and search various print catalogs for specific standards. If you do not know the issuing body of a standard you are searching for and need to search by subject, the Index and Directory of Industry Standards is your best option. If you do know the issuing body of a standard you are searching for, then searching said standards body's catalog is the best option.

Option Three: Search by Industry/Subject Area
A third option for locating standards is to search standards catalogs from a specific industry or subject area. The standards catalogs page provides call numbers and locations for standards guides located at UIUC. If you are unable to locate a standard that fits your needs, or require a standard not located at UIUC, proceed to step four.

Option Four: Contact the Grainger Reference Staff
If you are able to locate a standard that fits your needs either in an online catalog or a print catalog, make sure to write down the name of the issuing body and the standard number. These facts are necessary to help you locate the actual standard when you visit the library. If you are unable to locate a standard that fits your needs, please feel free to contact the Grainger Reference Staff via telephone (217-244-7826), the web, or visit the library in person. If a particular standard is not located anywhere at UIUC, you or a librarian can then request the item through Interlibrary loan.Please note that Interlibrary Loan takes 10-14 business days to return a request. If such a wait is unacceptable for you, then you want to consider option five.

Option Five: Contact Organizations That Issue Standards Directly
If you are unable to locate a specific standard at UIUC and a librarian is unable to provide efficient access through interlibrary loan, then you can attempt to contact the issuing body directly and order the standard for a fee.

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Comments to: Engineering Library
08.10.98 RA