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Standards: Access to standards at MIT

freely available standards during the pandemic

Identifying standards

Identify standards you need using these free databases:

Books and media: MIT catalog

Books, ebooks, journals, databases, and more at MIT.

Covid-19 and standards

While MIT buildings are closed due to the pandemic, access to the collection is limited. If we have a print standard in the stacks and you are a current MIT community member, you can request that we mail it to you - find the standard in the catalog as described below, then click "find in a library/request" and the gray request button for the standard you need. If we don't own a standard, we are buying electronic copies of standards for members of the MIT community. Note that standards are sold as secured pdfs that are only usable by one person. To request a standard, fill out the request form. If you need any help finding a standard, please use the Ask-Us chat or email.

Additionally, several standards granting agencies are making standards relating to Covid-19 relief efforts freely available during the pandemic, including standards for PPE, ventilators and more. We have gathered a list of these here.

Finding standards at MIT

1. First, try the alphabetical list of standards (Excel) held in the MIT Libraries, search our collections or check the frequently asked for standards.  Standards are in the library catalog by authoring body - NOT by individual title/number.  

  • For example, if you are looking for standard number ISO 50001.  You can either:
    • look at the alphabetical list above to find ISO standards - then click the Search Our Collections link or
    • do a "starts with/browse..." search in Search Our Collections for "ISO Standard" which will bring you to this record.
  • Note: We do not have ALL standards by each organization.

2. From the record in our catalog, click on "locations" and then "show more items" to see the individual standards held in the Barker Library (10-500). 

  • Remember, we do not have ALL standards by each organization.
  • For example, using the record above for ISO standards, click on locations and then show more items to see the individual ISO standards held in the Barker Library (10-500).  Look for number 50001. 
  • Once you find the standard you are looking for, you'll need to sign in to see the request links. Use "request" to request the standard be mailed to you.
  • TIP:  the numbers may not be in consecutive order.
  • Note: Due to copyright restrictions, the standards collection is NOT included in our Scan & Deliver service.  You may borrow items as part of our regular circulating collection.



If we do not own the standard, you are part of the MIT Community, and you need the standard for your research or coursework, you may request a standard by going here:  Please read the policies carefully.

Frequently asked for standards

Some standards are available online.  For standards in print, the link will take you to the record in Search Our Collections.  Follow the instructions for #2 (above) to find the standard number.

  • Military Standards and Handbooks

  • Society of Automotive Engineers

Current SAE standards, including aerospace, AMS, and ground vehicle standards (J standards) are available online in SAE Mobilus. Search by title or standards number.

Older versions are available in print or on CD-ROM:

SAE Aerospace Standards

SAE Ground Vehicle (J) Standards



ASTM Standards

ASTM standards, published in the multi-volume Annual Book of ASTM Standards, cover testing procedures, specifications and standard practices for a range of materials and topics. Their numbers indicate the broad area of the standard and the year they were published; for example, B160-61,"Specification for nickel rod and bar"  is in section B (non-ferrous metals) and was published in 1961. Standards are regularly updated (and given new year designations), but not every ASTM standard is updated every year. As topics change, standards are sometimes withdrawn or given new titles/numbers.

For current and recently withdrawn ASTM standards, search ASTM Compass. Standards are available in HTML and pdf versions. Documentation for the search interface is here.  

We also have ASTM standards in print until 2008. These are all in off-campus storage and will need to be requested. There are several catalog listings depending on what year you are looking for: 

Print indexes to ASTM standards are available in Barker Library reference (5th floor) at the following call numbers:  

  • TA401.A5174 (1928-29; 1933; 1935-1962, 1964-69)
  • TA401.A5173 (1970-2008). 

To find an older standard, first check to see if it is available online in Compass. If not: look for the standard number or the topic in the appropriate year's index volume. The volume in which the standard appears will be listed next to the standard number. From the catalog links above, request the volume that you need to be sent to an on-campus library. If you cannot find what you need, use the Ask-Us service to get help. 

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