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Cornell University

Technical Standards & Building Codes

Sources of Technical Standards


Standards and codes are needed to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life. They may be developed by trade associations, industries or government agencies. Upon publication they are given the acronym of the publishing organization together with a number and the current year identifies a given title e.g. ASCE 36 - 2001.

Standards may be incorporated into building codes, including building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire, and maintenance codes such as: IBC, IEBC, IEC; IECC; IFC; IMC; IPC; IRC; UBC; BOCA; SBC; ADA; ANSI; Fair Housing: UFAS; and NFPA. See alphabetical listing below for their location.

How to Obtain Standards

Different publishers or Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) make their standards available in different ways. Sometimes they are offered for free online (like the developer standard for USB 3.1), others offer a complete package of their standards which Cornell University Library is able to subscribe to so as to give access to all students and faculty (i.e. ASTM, IEEE). Other SDOs have so many standards it is impractical for us to subscribe to their complete package or else their standards package is not well-designed for use by universities.

Full-text online (subscription access via Cornell University Libary)

  • ASTM (including AATC) - Regular access to both current and past standards via: ASTM Standards and Engineering Digital Library 

  • IEEE - IEEE standards (except Draft standards) are accessible via IEEE Xplore

  • ASCE - ASCE Library 

  • ASME - Boiler Pressure Vessel Code Volume II (Materials) available online

  • ASQ (American Society for Quality) - Some ASQ standards are also included as part of the Knovel digital library

  • International Building Code - Accessible online via Mad Cad

  • SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers)Part of the Knovel digital library.

Full-text online (freely available)

  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute) - American National Standards Institute(online reference; full text may not be available)

  • MilSpecs (Military standards) (contains many free military and Dept. of Defense standards and handbooks), also ASSIST Quicksearch 

  • NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) - some standards available via NFPA (you will need to create a login first). We also have many older NFPA standards in print (see below)

  • NISO (National Information Standards Organization) - available via NISO

Some free standards are available for viewing only at the IBR List of Standards. (Standards Incorporated By Reference SIBR database hosted by NIST). Printing and downloading is not available.

Access via CD-ROM or hardcopy (via Cornell University Library)

  • ACI (American Concrete Institute) - Most-current manual is at the Uris Library Reference section (hardcopy). Older editions are available from the Library Annex (hardcopy or CD-ROM)

  • SAE - The most-recent edition of the SAE Handbook (and standards thereof) which we have access to is from 2006. Contact the Engineering Librarians to get access. Older editions may be found in the Mathematics or Library Annex (hardcopy or CD-ROM)

Must be individually ordered (via Cornell University Library)

  • ISO (​International Standards Organization) standards

  • Many others

  • Standards can be ordered from IHS Markit and Global SAI.

If you need a standard that we do not have or which you cannot find, we may be willing to purchase a copy for the library for your use. Contact the Engineering librarians, or 607-254-6261.

Note that due to licensing and DRM restrictions, we usually find it necessary to order individual standards in hardcopy format: Many standards vendors apply watermarking and other DRM software, plus require us to sign license agreements that prevent us from storing or offering their standards in digital form (i.e. a PDF).

Alphabetical Listing of Standards by Organizational Acronym


Title of Resource

Location (online or hardcopy)

ACI Manual of Concrete Practice
Most-current manual is at the Uris Library Reference section (hardcopy). Older editions are available from the Library Annex (hardcopy or CD-ROM)

American National Standards Institute
(Includes some ANS, ASAE, ASCE, ASHRAE, ASME, AWWA, EIA, NFPA, SAE, UL standards, some filed as ANSE/ASME)

American National Standards Institute (online reference; full text may not be available)

Many individual standards are kept at the Library Annex (hardcopy or CD-ROM).

ASCE American Society for Civil Engineers standards

ASCE Library (online)

(or Search catalog for "ASCE standard" in Guided Keyword Search)

Some ASCE standards are also included as part of the Knovel digital library


American Society for Quality

Some ASQ standards are also included as part of the Knovel digital library


Annual Book of ASTM standards

Regular access to both current and past standards via: ASTM Standards and Engineering Digital Library (online)

ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code

Volume II (Materials) also available online 

Library Annex (hardcopy)

ASME standards
Some additional standards can be found in hardcopy, interfiled with ANSI standards.
Library Annex (Search catalog for T59.A51 in the librar catalog) (hardcopy)
- Index and Directory of Industry Standards Library Annex (hardcopy)

IEEE standards

Networked Resource

All IEEE standards (except for DRAFT standards) are accessible via IEEE Xplore


Older hardcopy standards available at Library Annex (Search catalog for TK5700 .I592 in Basic Search)

  International Building Code (superseded Uniform Building Code as of 1997)

Accessible online via Mad Cad

Fine Arts Library or Library Annex (hardcopy)

ISO International Organization for Standardization

International Organization for Standardization (online)

ISO standards are generally only available for purchase. The library may be willing to purchase such standards as a normal materials request. However, ISO standards are licensed and watermarked to the purchaser. Contact the Engineering librarians to inquire.


U.S. Department of Defense

Military Standards and Specifications (online; contains many free military and Dept. of Defense standards and handbooks)

ASSIST Quicksearch (online)
NFPA National Fire Protection Association


NFPA (some are free online)

We also have some in print at the Library Annex as part of this record here (you will need to scroll down; hit "Request" at the top of the page to request individual standards from that collection).

National Information Standards Organization
NISO (online)
National Electrical Code
National Institute of Standards and Technology Standard Physical Reference Data Page (SI standard units, conversion factors, universal constants)

NIST Physical Reference Data Page (online)

Library Annex (Search catalog for QC94 .S47 in the library catalog) (hardcopy)


National Resource for Global Standards (National Standards Systems Network)

Uniform Building Code
(1997 superseded by International Building Code)

Library Annex (Search catalog for TH223 .P3 1997 or K3538 .A15 I57 in the library catalog) (hardcopy)


SAE Handbook
Society of Automotive Engineers

The most-recent edition of the SAE Handbook (and standards thereof) which we have access to is from 2006. Contact the Engineering Librarians to get access.

Older editions may be found in the Mathematics or Library Annex (hardcopy or CD-ROM)


Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Part of the Knovel digital library


Some foreign national standards sites


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