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n. ~ 1. A benchmark or reference used to measure some quality or practice. - 2. An international, national, or industry agreement that establishes qualities or practices in order to achieve common goals. - 3. Shelving · A vertical beam or pole used to hold shelves; an upright.


In this glossary, specific standards are entered under the full name, with cross-references under their standard number. For example, the Department of Defense's records management standard is entered under its title, Design Criteria for Electronic Records Management Software Applications, with a cross-reference from DoD 5015.2.

(Duff 1996, p. 347) De jure standards emanate from legislative bodies and are regulatory in nature, while de facto standards derive from particular products that dominate the market. Voluntary consensus standards emerge from cooperative ventures and usually reflect consensus building and compromise. Almost all archival standards are voluntary consensus standards.
(Schmelzer 2003) A standard is simply an agreement on common practices among multiple parties. Standards have been around for a long time – electric current, railroad gauges, the metric system, and even musical notation are examples of standards. However, the processes that interested parties follow to establish standards can differ dramatically. Standards can either be de facto (occurring as a result of natural market movement and adoption) or prescribed (established by formal agreement). De facto standards often result when one vendor dominates a market, while prescribed standards develop in competitive environments where market participants realize that agreement upon a standard will benefit all of the participants. De facto standards incite little argument, because the market as a whole decides them. However, prescribed standards cause much consternation, because of the often contentious processes that lead to their establishment.

A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology