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Standards and Specifications
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Has Standards!


What is a Standard?

“A Standard is a published document which sets out specifications and procedures designed to ensure that a material, product, method or service is fit for its purpose and consistently performs in the way it was intended.  Standards establish a common language, which defines quality and establishes safety criteria.”  ( Standards Australia.)

A standard is a universally agreed upon guideline, which usually facilitates safety or ease of use.  ASTM F717-89(2006) Standard Specification for Football Helmets ensures that all helmets manufactured for use in competitive football meet the needs of the NFL and the stringent testing requirements of the American Society for Testing & Materials.

UL If you have hedge trimmers in your garage, they’ll have the familiar marking, indicating they meet the safety standards set by Underwriter’s Laboratories in their standard UL 1448. – UL Standard for Electric Hedge Trimmers.

Engineers, inventors, manufacturers and contractors, insurers, governmental bodies, attorneys and consumers (like homeowners) all rely on standards to assure that buildings, bridges, cars, roads, and 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. 

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's (CLP) Main Library in Oakland maintains a large collection of standards published by several of the most respected agencies in the world.  Within reasonable limits, the library continues to add to the collection based on customer requirements and the library’s collection goals.  Below you will find brief explanations of the standards available at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Although the items in these collections are strictly for reference use and cannot leave the library, References Services offers fax and digital document delivery (in accordance with copyright laws and fair use practices) as well as extensive in-house access to these collections. 

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(American National Standards Institute)

Founded in 1918, ANSI coordinates the development and use of voluntary consensus standards in the United States and represents the needs and views of U.S. stakeholders in standardization forums around the world. The Institute oversees the creation, distribution and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses and consumers in nearly every sector of the U.S. economy. ANSI is also actively engaged in accrediting programs that assess conformance to standards – including globally-recognized cross-sector programs such as the ISO 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environmental) management systems.

Different headings within the ANSI identifications indicate different sources:  ANSI / SAE sources utilize information from the Society of Automotive Engineers (which evolved to include aerospace as well as ground vehicles), and ANSI / UL documents comprise information from Underwriters’ Laboratories.

Browse Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh ANSI Standards Holdings

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The NSSN: A National Resource for Global Standards is a search engine that provides users with standards-related information from a wide range of developers, including organizations accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), other U.S. private sector standards bodies, government agencies and international organizations.  NSSN is maintained and run by ANSI.

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(American Society for Testing & Materials)

ASTM international standards have an important role in the communications that guides design, manufacturing and trade in the global economy. Carnegie Library maintains its collection of ASTM standards from as far back as 1898, and receives the most current set incrementally over the course of the calendar year. The most recent two years are housed in the second floor Room Reference collection. The librarians of the Reference Services Department will aid customers in locating these items.

ASTM standards cover topics like:

  • Inspecting for asbestos (E 1368-05 Standard Practice for Visual Inspection of Asbestos Abatement Projects)
  • Using the proper terminology for fire standards (E176-06 Standard Terminology of Fire Standards)
  • Training paramedics (F1651-95(2002) Standard Guide for Training the Emergency Medical Technician [Paramedic])
  • Testing for the presence of lead in water (D3559-03 Standard Test Methods for Lead in Water)

Search the Library Catalog for the Annual Book Of ASTM Standards.

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(British Standards Institution)

British Standards is the National Standards Body of the UK responsible for facilitating, drafting, publishing and marketing standards and related information products. British Standards provides organizations with leading-edge best practice solutions that represent and support the needs of UK business and society at home and abroad.  BSI was formed in 1901 as the Engineering Standards Committee and received a royal charter in 1929.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh opened in 1895 -- a period when Great Britain was still the world’s dominant industrial power.  As a result of Andrew Carnegie’s personal interest in the library’s scientific and technology collections, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has always maintained strong collections in the areas of industrial processes and the history of industrial and technological achievements.   Carnegie Library’s earliest British Standard dates from 1903.  Today we hold more than 26,000 of them.  BSI Standards incorporate ISO requirements (International Standards Organization,) as well as standards from the European Union.

Browse a list of CLP's British Standards holdings.

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IEEE Standards Association

"The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) is a leading developer of industry standards in a broad-range of industries. Globally recognized, the IEEE-SA has strategic relationships with the IEC, ISO, and the ITU and satisfies all SDO requirements set by the World Trade Organization, offering more paths to international standardization."

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offers access to almost 1300 IEEE standards through our subscription to the IEEE Xplore, IEEE's electronic gateway to thousands of reports, documents and standards.

IEEE Xplore is available at the Main Library in Oakland, Downtown & Business and Squirrel Hill.


(Military Performance Specification)

Mil Spec is the designation used for standards and specifications as determined by the U.S. Defense Department.  They incorporate both the singularly military items used by the armed forces in weapon’s systems as well as multi-purpose products like motor oils, bungee cord, parachute nylon and compatible electronics.  Mil Specs also cover processes and management programs used within the department.  Businesses seeking to provide products and services to the Pentagon will have to meet the Mil requirements laid out in any Defense Department tender.

Carnegie Library has an historic Mil Spec collection on microfiche and access (please speak to a Reference Librarian) to current Mil Specs.

Search for milspecs via the Department of Defense assistdocs.