Introduction to library standards and the players in the field

Alan Hopkinson


What are standards? Have you ever wandered why so many standards begin with “Z”? The present article wishes to provide an answer to these and many  other  questions  you  always  wanted  to  know  about  standards. Standards can be de jure, de facto and proprietary, though there is not always clear cut as to which category a standard belongs to. In the area of librarianship  and  information  management,  many  standards  are  guidelines advising  particular  practices:  the  subject  which  they  seek  to  standardise  is not one which has to be uniform for the situation to work. Standards are often  conceived  by  professional  associations  or  national  institutions  needing to promote standard methodologies within their constituency. They are then proposed to a national standards body before being offered to ISO for international standardisation. In the library and information field, the interest lies in each country’s own national standard, in ISO standards and in NISO standards,  which  though American  national  standards  sometimes  get  used internationally. Standards in the field can be grouped by their applications:
describing and identifying information resources,   information  exchange, managing collections, and delivering services.

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