This lecture script examines the nature and role of standards for the emerging 21st century library. Given the dynamic character of the networked environment, when are standards appropriate and how can they be developed in a manner consistent with the volatility of information technologies and changing library services? What are the roles and responsibilities of standards developing organizations, technology vendors, content creators, and librarians for standards? Do local practices of libraries threaten standards-based resource sharing and resource access technologies? Can local needs be balanced with broader library community responsibilities, and how do standards affect this balance? The speaker's assumption is that adherence to standards has never been more critical, yet his implementation experience with Z39.50 and MARC suggests that the commitment to national and international standards by librarians, technology vendors, and content creators are often an example of good intentions rather than actual practice. This standards disconnect threatens the emerging 21st century library's ability to deliver fundamental services in appropriate ways to their users.