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Standards Keep Pages Turning during National Book Month

October marks the annual observance of National Book Month, honoring the importance of reading and providing an important opportunity to highlight the significant role played by books in culture and everyday life in the United States. And while voluntary consensus standards might not be the first thing you think of in connection with books, these documents provide important support to the publishers, libraries, and printing firms that make it possible to curl up with a favorite novel or picture book.

Before you can pick a hardcover or paperback book off the shelves at your local bookstore or library (or order it online, for that matter), the text needs to be transformed from a digital file into a bound collection of printed pages. To support the printing process, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and audited designator ASTM International has developed a helpful standard. ASTM D6488-08(2013), Standard Terminology Relating to Print Problems, provides definitions for challenges associated with the printing of books and other printed matter that are related to issues with the ink, press, or substrate, making it easier to discuss and address these sorts of problems. The definitions are applicable for lithography, flexography, and gravure printing.

When you're looking through the shelves, trying to decide which book to read, the information printed on the spines of these volumes can provide important information - including title, author, publisher, and more - to help you make your selection. ANSI/NISO Z39.41-1997 (R2002), Printed Information on Spines, sets down guidance regarding best practices for presenting information the spines of books, digital discs, and other media for maximum clarity. This American National Standard (ANS) was developed by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

While e-books are on the rise, public libraries and their vast collections still serve an important public service by educating children and providing centers for entertainment and learning nationwide. To help support library staff members in maintaining and improving the effectiveness of their libraries, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed an International Standard on library performance indicators. ISO 16439:2014, Methods and procedures for assessing the impact of libraries, was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 46, Information and documentation, Subcommittee (SC) 8, Quality - Statistics and performance evaluation. The U.S.'s Steve Hiller, director of assessment and planning, University of Washington Libraries, serves as the chair of SC 8. NISO serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to ISO TC 46 and SC 8.

Because library books are read and checked out by so many patrons, it can be necessary for library staff to rebind paperback books and other printed materials to ensure their durability over time. To support these efforts, ANSI/NISO/LBI Z39.78-2000, Library Binding, provides technical and material specifications for the hardcover binding of paperbacks and serial publications for library use. This ANS was developed by NISO in conjunction with the Library Binding Institute (LBI).

Whether you're browsing paperbacks at your local independent book store or attending story time at the public library with your children, voluntary standards help support books and reading during National Book Month and beyond.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]