Find Standards

What are standards and specifications?

They are documents that stipulate or recommend:

  1. minimum levels of performance and quality of goods and services, and
  2. optimal conditions and procedures for operations in science, industry, and commerce - including production, evaluation, distribution, and utilization of materials, products, and services."

...From the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, v.30, 1980, p. 176

The McMaster Library has several sets of standards, the most important full collections being ASTM, from the American Society for Testing and Materials, CSA, from the Canadian Standards Association and IEEE, from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

There are many organizations, both domestic and foreign, that publish standards.  The Library may have some individual ones catalogued but does not collect them from most organizations.  For example, we may have some British Standards
Association (BSI) standards but not the whole set.

Information about individual standards can usually be found on an organization's website or from ILS Global, a commercial site that sells standards from around the world or ANSI.  It is also sometimes possible to borrow standards from another library via RACER.

We also have some handbooks that publish standards for some organizations; some of these are outlined in this guide.

This quick guide refers to the following organizations and how to find their standards:

AASTHO - American Association of State Highway Officials
ACI - American Concrete Association
ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials
CGSB - Canadian General Standards Board
CSA - Canadian Standards Association
IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
SAE - Society of Automotive Engineers

AASHTO - American Association of State Highway Officials

Most people need a specific standard or test method from AASHTO.  They are found in the following:

Standard specifications for transportation materials and methods of sampling and testing (Ref TE 200 .A6)

There are four volumes : Part 1 : 1A , 1B and part 2 : 2A, 2B

Parts 1A and 1B contain the specifications.  Specifications have designations such as <M29-03> and <R29-02 (2006)>. 
The numbers <03> and <02> refer to the year the standard was published.  Another date in parentheses simply indicates that the standard was re-affirmed in that year.

Parts 2A and 2B contain specific tests.  All of these tests have the designation <T> and number of the test; <T-21-05> or T319-03 (2007)>.  Again the other numbers refer to the year.

There are indexes in each volume that will tell you which volume contains which standard or test.

There is also another volume to be aware of:

AASHTO Provisional Standards (Ref. TE 200 .A27 curr)

These are standards that have not been affirmed and are not in the other volumes.  They have designations such as <MP-16-07>, <TP-61-02> or <PP-34-99>.   The tipoff that they are provisional is the <P> .
These are listed in alpha-numerical order by subject in the table of contents.  You just have to look through the TOC if you know the number (there are not that many).

ACI - American Concrete Institute 

These standards are found in the AACI Manual of Concrete Practice@ (Ref TA 682 .A5 2009 pt.).  It is issued annually in parts; currently there are 6 parts plus a separate subject index which also includes a section on concrete terminology.

These standards have designations such as <ACI 107-71(97)> or  <ACI 308.1-98>.  The numbers following the standard number simply indicate the date the standard was issued or re-approved.

The standards are in numerical order in each part; the range of standards contained in a volume is on the spine of each volume so it's easy to see which volume you need.

Each of these standards also has an individual title by which a person might refer to it instead of the number.  These titles are in the TOC of each volume but in numerical, not alphabetical, order.  They can also be checked on the ACI website.

ACI also publishes various other journals, reports, commentaries, etc. which are available separately.

ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials  

The ASTM standards are available online; they can be found in the ASTM standards and digital engineering library in the catalogue.  Once connected to the site, you can simply search by the designation of the standard such as <A102>.  You can also search the site by subject.  These standards can be printed or downloaded to your desktop or USB key.

We don't have access to the older historical or withdrawn standards online.  For these you would have to consult the paper copy.  Currently we still have the 2008 standards in Reference (TA 401 .A51) with the 2 previous years in the stacks.  Older editions are in storage.

The standards have designations such as <A102-07> and <F2367-04a>.  <07> or <04 > indicate the year of publication and the <a> indicates a minor editorial change that does not substantially change the content.  Not all standards are updated or replaced each year and some are withdrawn.

If you are looking for a print version of the standard and have the number of a standard, look in the first volume ASect.00".  There is a numerical index that will tell you which volume to look in for the standard, i.e. ASect. 4, v.8".   There is also a subject index in volume 00.   Most people will know the number of the standard they require so it's very easy to look up in the index.  There are also instructions on how to use the index in the volume

The website can also be used to search for standards.

CGSB - Canadian General Standards Board    

These are currently filed between S and T in the Reference section in the basement.  They are in big green binders (note: a number of standards are missing).

These have designations such as:

<CAN/CGSB-38.107-93>, <39-GP-11M> or <62-GP-2b>

These standards are filed in numerical order in the binders.  There is a paper index in Quick reference; however it is out-of -date but good for general information about the standards. (CA1 ST35 C31).  More information can be found on their website . 

IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
(Commonly referred to as I Triple E)

These standards are available full-text online through IEEE Xplore. 

This database also has many other full-text IEEE journals, proceedings, etc.

These standards are also sometimes recognized as American National Standards (ANSI).
ANSI itself does not develop standards but oversees the creation and use of international norms and guidelines for standards and accredits programs that assess conformation to standards.

CSA - Canadian Standards Association 

To access these standards, search in the catalogue under CSA standards. 

To find a standard by number, click on search my subscription and enter the number such as <A23>.  Be aware that this can be a tricky database if you enter too much information.  For example, entering <A23.4-05>, the exact number of the standard, will yield no results available.  By searching by <A23> you will get 5 hits, including the one you are searching for.  Click on view to pull up the PDF file.  Click on the highlighted number to see the entire standard.

If the number is not known, the standards can be searched by subject area.  Clicking on the subject will open the file, revealing more precise subjects.  Click through until you find the one you want and click on view.

The standards can be downloaded to a USB key.

Note: These are available only online; we no longer have any print. However, there is a catalogue on the Quick Reference shelves <ZT 59 .A1 C36 curr 2006>.

SAE - Society of Automotive Engineers

The  SAE Handbook (Ref. TL 151 .S62 2005 v.1,2,3) contains surface vehicle standards, recommended practices and information reports.  Each of these has a designation consisting of the letter J combined with a number.  A typical number is <SAE J357 Oct99>.  The index in front of volume 1 lists the standards in numerical order and tells which of the three volumes contains the standard, the section and the page.  For example, J357 has the following information: <1:12.39>.  This means it will be found in volume 1, in section 12, on page 39.  Volume 1 also has a subject index.   There is also an explanation on how to use the handbook in the front of the volume. Because the Handbook is published annually, some of the standards or reports may not be the most current edition available.  The SAE website can be consulted for further information.

Note: The 2005 edition is the last edition in print format.  We currently (Nov. 2009) do not have the CD version of the Handbook, the only format available.