Teaching and Collecting Technical Standards: A Q&A

Purdue University Press spoke with editors Chelsea Leachman, Erin M. Rowley, Margaret Phillips and Daniela Solomon about their new book Teaching and Collecting Technical Standards: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators.

Q: Could you give a brief description of your book?

Technical standards are vital for product design, manufacturing, testing, and utilization. Universities are now incorporating standards into the curriculum to align with employer expectations for new hires. Nevertheless, there needs to be more resources addressing technical standards information literacy, which encompasses comprehending the standardization process, recognizing different standards, and using them in practice.

Libraries and librarians hold a pivotal role in standards education, encompassing both the curation and dissemination of standards, as well as the instruction of standards information literacy. This book provides librarians and educators with valuable insights into understanding technical standards, instruction, and collection development.

Q: What is the goal of your book? What motivated you to write it?

While technical standards have a long history, this book represents an effort to consolidate background information, definitions, processes, and instructional methods into a single comprehensive resource. This book emerged in response to a pressing need within the library community, particularly among engineering librarians, who often have limited exposure to technical standards. The authors’ objective was to create an impartial, centralized information source on technical standards. Standards are also an important resource in professions outside of engineering and technology, such as business, law, and environmental and health sciences, but are not a topic frequently addressed at the university level. The authors also wanted to incorporate content to address growing needs in these areas.

Furthermore, there is a growing demand to incorporate technical standard education into classrooms. However, achieving this can be challenging for librarians and instructors, as it requires both justification and the development of lesson plans. We aim for this book to serve as a valuable resource, offering inspiration and practical ideas for utilizing and teaching technical standards effectively.

Q: What are a few things that are being studied for the first time in this book?

In our book, we explore several new areas of study, one of which is the compilation of instructional case studies focused on technical standards. These case studies encompass a range of instructional scenarios spanning the fields of engineering, health sciences, and business. Each case study includes clear objectives, detailed instructional descriptions, and instructional assessments. Our hope is that these case studies will serve as a resource, assisting librarians and educators in integrating technical standards into their respective curricula.

Another part of this book that is new is its focus on aligning technical standard instruction with program accreditation guidelines. While individuals have the option to delve into program-level accreditation guidelines, this book offers users a convenient way to identify how technical standard instruction aligns within the broader program context.

Q: Is there anything that shocked or surprised you while working on this project?

We were surprised – but pleasantly so – by the tremendous support we received from the engineering librarian community as we worked on this project. From the people that contributed content to the book, to the librarians who anonymously reviewed the manuscript, to those who simply were excited to purchase a copy for their institutions, we are so grateful for the enthusiastic response this book has garnered. We are hopeful it will be a helpful and useful resource to those in the engineering librarian community and beyond.

You can get 30% off Teaching and Collecting Technical Standards: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators and any other Purdue University Press book by ordering from our website and using the code PURDUE30 at checkout.