Thursday, September 03, 2015


Sometimes you get a question about building codes, fire codes, electrical codes, etc. The patron may mention local, state, national, or international codes. Why are there so many codes, and how do you know which one to look at? As with all legal questions, librarians cannot interpret the codes, but even finding them for the patron can be tricky.

Since lawmakers usually lack expertise to write the codes themselves, they adopt national or international codes created by private trade associations. Since this is voluntary, they are free to amend the codes or continue to use an earlier code when a newer one is available. So, the text of the St. Paul Code of Ordinances will contain citations to the date and section of the Minnesota Building Code that has been adopted, and the Minnesota Building Code will contain citations to the International Building Code.

code of ord snip.JPG

All of these codes are available for free on the Internet:

In addition, The Internet Archive is adding building codes to its collection. The advantage here is that they can be downloading in various handy e-book formats such as .pdf, Kindle, and EPUB. This is useful for people who want to keep a title to consult. They also can be downloaded on mobile devices. While not all the most current codes have been downloaded yet, remember sometimes an older title is still being used by a particular jurisdiction.

Reasons patrons want building codes include: legal disputes, studying for a contractor exam, making sure that a new home improvement project is not violating rules. 

--Andrea H. @GLCL

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