We must have standards

We must have standards

Designing things is hard. Designing things that work with other things is still harder work. Anyone who has tried to get their bathroom replumbed knows just how much fun it can be to change fittings in a system where nothing seems to be designed to an interoperable standard. When it comes to things as diverse as precision manufacture to emergency signage, things that really matter are designed to international standards. Standards help share evidence-based best practices and ensure components from different manufacturers will fit and work together as intended. International standards facilitate trade between countries by offering some measure of confidence that wherever something is manufactured that it will have been made to a known standard (no pun intended) and can be relied upon to be safe, effective, and work as intended.

A question we are frequently asked is where these elusive standards can be found. Well, most are available from British Standards Online (BSOL). Please understand that standards are peculiarly expensive and we cannot afford to subscribe to all of them, so you need to look for the green tick and caption reading “Available in your subscription” underneath a standard before you can be sure you will be able to download and read it. When working with BSOL, please leave a discrete gap (at least 10 minutes) between downloading standards if you can – the British Standards Institute has had bad experiences in the past and is anxious that anyone downloading multiple standards might be building their own standards library so they need no longer subscribe to the database. Downloading too many standards too quickly can trigger the system to lock you out, which is never welcome. If that does happen, please get in touch and we will get them to let you back in again but understand this might take a day or so to happen.

Another source of standards that we acquired comparatively recently (I think – certainly I had never heard of it before today) is Engineering Workbench. This specialist database comprises many things, including some standards. Adding things to our BSOL subscription is surprisingly difficult because of the rigid payment plans available and so we sometimes buy individual standards through Engineering Workbench in response to client requests.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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