Standards > Introduction

The Tower of Babel, 1563, by Pieter [the Elder] Bruegel (c. 1525-69), wood, 114 cm x155 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna.

Definition

Any document or specification generated and accepted by appropriately qualified professional groups or individuals, that advises on quality assurance, by presenting best practice, core principles and codes of practice.

The working definition of a 'Standard', 1. Introduction, Mapping of Standards for Museums, Libraries and Archives, re:Source, The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries

Through standards, professionals define and substantiate the value of their specialized services; their roles and responsibilities on a project; and ways to best coordinate and communicate team work. As a new profession, the adoption and use of standards is critical to preservation's expanding role.
Standards for professional qualifications and practice include:

  • education and training credentials offered by academic institutions, trade organizations, government, and companies;
  • code of ethics and professional conduct developed by organizations and adopted by members;
  • examination and licensing in specialized fields by industry and government;
  • voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services adopted by standards-developing organizations;
  • mandated and non-regulatory local, federal and international standards;
  • research and work in peer-reviewed publications and technical reports.

The process that produces standards typically brings together knowledgeable practitioners to codify a reasonable body of practice based on a wide range of experiences. It is important that a standard be developed through a consensus-building process in the community where it is to be used.

Standards enable and foster the interchange of information.

Acceptance of standards is not without cost; Standards seldom represent the leading edge of technology.

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