Using HOLLIS and Worldcat

HOLLIS is Harvard's online search engine for our physical and online collections. There are two different options for searching:

  • Library Catalog searches books, journals, videos, images, government documents, manuscripts, digital resources, etc. It searches the full text of archival finding aids.
  • Everything searches journal and newspaper articles and a vast range of other electronic resources, some of which Harvard does not possess, together with the Library Catalog.

How to Get It :

View Online and Locations & Availability are usually straightforward, but How to Get It can be confusing. Sometimes How to Get It  takes you to the full text or a HOLLIS record, but if not, go back to the Details page.  If you see Is Part Of and then a title, copy the title and search it in HOLLIS.

Finding Books:

A keyword search (Everything) limited to Books (either pre-search in Advanced Search– adjust Resource Type from Any resource type to Books; or post-search – Refine My Results: Resource Type: Books) yields numerous book chapters and books not available at Harvard.  To find books available via the Harvard Library, use 'Show Only' at the top of the right hand column on the Results page.  Note that you can limit here to books not in Storage.

For more on HOLLIS

Search Tips

Use quotes "" to keep words together as a phrase, thus "shell shock" rather than shell shock which is searched as shell AND shock. Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to do complex searches: e.g., (“electronic surveillance” OR eavesdropping) AND privacy

  • Note that OR and AND must be in caps. 

Find all forms of a word with wildcards. ? matches a single character and * matches multiple characters: e.g., feminis?; gene* therapy

  • Note: Phrase searches cannot include wildcards, and you cannot use a wildcard at the beginning of a word).

Subject Searches

  • 1. Search any reasonable keywords
  • 2. Choose pertinent records
  • 3. Look at the Subject terms
  • 4. Redo the search using those terms
  • or Open More options under Subject (left-hand column) and mark Include or Exclude to narrow down your original search. Copy and search Subject terms if you don't want to just narrow down your original search.

Subject terms are chosen by the Library of Congress to express the subject matter of the book. For example, the LC subject term for drones is "Drone aircraft".  The most common Subject terms in your Results set are listed under Subject on the right-hand side.  The Library of Congress subject system is complex, and often there will be several pertinent Subject terms.

Note that only the initial terms in the Subject term strings are listed in the right-hand column.  Thus, in Creationism -- Political aspects, only Creationism is included.  It is often useful to look at several pertinent records to find these qualifying terms, called subdivisions.  You can search "Creationism -- Political aspects" as a phrase (in "").  Also try browsing your subject term: next section.

Subject Browsing:

You can browse subjects in HOLLIS:

  • Choose the option to Starts with.../Browse
  • Choose “By subject” from the dropdown menu on the left
  • Type in your subject to browse.  

You will see your subject broken down to show various aspects. This is often very useful, especially for big subjects.

A search for "Evolution (Biology)" (as an example) will retrieve the Subject "Evolution (Biology)" broken down to show various aspects of that subject. Thus:

  • Evolution (Biology) -- Political aspects -- Great Britain
  • Evolution (Biology) -- Popular works
  • Evolution (Biology) -- Psychological aspects
  • Evolution (Biology) -- Public opinion -- History
  • Evolution (Biology) -- Quotations, maxims, etc
  • Evolution (Biology) -- Religious aspects
  • Evolution (Biology) -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church

The various terms coming after the main terms, for example, Religious aspects after Evolution (Biology), are called “free-floating subdivisions" and can be applied to other main terms, for example, Nature -- Religious aspects.

The Subject field in HOLLIS uses the Library of Congress classfication system. A list of free-floating subdivisions is available at Library of Congress Subject Headings PDF Files.

Browsing the Shelves Online

Browsing the actual shelves allows you to dip into books and immediately gauge their value. You will, however, miss any books that are checked out or in the Harvard Depository. You can browse these too, although you cannot dip, in HOLLIS.  

  • Use the Starts with.../Browse link on top of the search screens
  • Choose the call number system you want to browse by from the dropdown menu on the left.
  • If you don’t see the call number system you want, choose “Other call number.”
  • Find the call numbers for your search by doing keyword searches or subject browses and noting the call numbers for appropriate items.

The Library of Congress Classification system outline is detailed online.

Finding Articles in HOLLIS

If you don’t find the article you want in HOLLIS Everything by searching the article title, try searching the journal title in HOLLIS Library Catalog.  You may limit a title keyword search in Advanced search to journals (adjust Limit to: from All items to Journals) or Starts with.../Browse by title.

Not all of our electronic resources are searched in HOLLIS Everything.  To see lists of our databases, go to the Databases page and enter a major subject area (like "history of science" or "medicine" or "african american").

Tips for items not in HOLLIS

When in WorldCat (see WorldCat information): find the Series field on the WorldCat record. If your book is a volume in a series, Harvard may own the whole series and have one HOLLIS record for the series, rather than a record for each volume

If pre-1923: look in HathiTrust (Harvard Login to download public domain materials), Google Books and Internet Archive.

  • Fall 2020: this applies to lots of copyrighted material too while HathiTrust is making it available through their Emergency Temporary Access Service. If we have a book in print and it exists in HathITrust's database, we should be able to view the full text.

Submit a purchase request (link also exists on the main HOLLIS page). If it is a very new book, it may be that we have received it but do not yet have it entered in HOLLIS.

Getting What You Need

How can you get your hands/eyes on material?

 HOLLIS- the center of the Library ecosystem. This is often be the best first step to see if we have something. Many items are readily available through HOLLIS by clicking on "Online Access" or opening the listing and scrolling down to the "Get it" section. Check the HOLLIS section of this guide. 

Browser Plugins for Library Access- Harvard Bookmark and Lean Library plugins can help you find out if we have access to books and articles online-- so you don't always have to go to HOLLIS when you want to know if we have a certain item.

Off-Site Storage. Hit Request Pick Up in the Get It section of the HOLLIS Record. After your Harvard Key there is a pull down menu allowing you to choose delivery location. Sometimes there is a single delivery option. Submit your request. You will receive an email usually next business day (not weekends or holidays) morning.  Item is usually ready for pick-up in mid-afternoon.  Sometimes Offsite storage material is in-library use only.  For Widener, this is the Widener 1st floor room formerly the Periodical Room and the temporary location for Houghton (directly across the lobby from the Circulation Room).  Most Offsite storage material is available for scanning via Scan & Deliver (see below). 

Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan- request pdfs of articles and book chapters from HOLLIS listings when you cannot get online access.

  • Limit: 2 chapters from a book or 2 articles from a journal.

Interlibrary Loan request materials from other libraries (log in on the ILL page)

  • Some non-Harvard special collections may be willing and able to scan material (usually for a fee).  Our Interlibrary Loan department will place the request and help with the cost (there is a cap).
  • Contact the other repository to see if they're able to scan what you need. Get a price estimate for the material and the exact details (like Box 77 folder 4- this is often available in Finding Aids)
  • Log in to ILL.  On the left side it says "Make a Request."  Open that and choose "Request Article." 
    • Fill in what you can (put in N/A if the field is inapplicable) with the price and other information in the Comments box.
    • This will get the process going and ILL will get back to you if they need more information or to discuss the price.

BorrowDirect - the fastest way to get books, music scores, some DVD and video, that we don't have in the library.

Purchase Request Specify if you want print or online

Access to Harvard Special Collection Materials

  • Look for "Request to Scan or Visit" in HOLLIS (to place a scanning request) or contact the repository directly. Most of our larger archival collections are able to provide scans.

Widener Carrels

Graduate students and visiting scholars are eligible to have a carrel in the Widener stacks: start the process with the carrel request form. (If you do this right at the start of the semester, it may take a few weeks before you receive confirmation.) Materials from the Widener stacks, including non-circulating materials like bound periodicals, can be checked out to your carrel.

Help with Digital Projects

The Digital Scholarship Support Group offers faculty, students, and staff interested in incorporating digital methods into their teaching and research a single point of entry to the many resources available at Harvard.