Alumni benefits and resources from Harvard Library and from the Harvard Alumni Association continue to support your learning after you graduate.
Library services for alums can include building access, book borrowing privileges, and online access to a selection of databases. Keep scrolling for details.
- Keep your ID card - you can have building access added to your same Harvard ID card
- Keep your HarvardKey - you can keep your login name even after you lose access to your Harvard email address
- Visit Manage Your Account & Services to confirm that your recovery email is still a valid address for you
HARVARD ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
The alumni association offers you a worldwide community of over 400,000 Harvard graduates, with opportunities for networking, professional development, volunteering, and more.
- Alumni Benefits and Resources (HAA) lists general services and resources for alums
- The Harvard Alumni Help (HAA) page or email@example.com for general issues and inquiries
Access to Harvard Library buildings
Alums are welcome in Harvard Library buildings, which includes use of electronic resources via library computers. Alums may also bring a limited number of guests into the library. One-day passes are available from the Access & Borrowing Office.
- Submit your application for free-of-charge access and borrowing privileges
- Privileges are active for 12 months. To renew, simply re-apply
- Tap/swipe access to Harvard Library buildings
- Borrowing privileges for Harvard library materials: 28-day loan with automatic renewals
- Sign up for Harvard Library updates via the option on our "News" page - you'll receive an email every 1-2 months featuring new collections, resources, and news
Alums cannot access
- ONLINE ACCESS links that require login
Use the links in the list of Electronic Resources under Using Harvard Library as an Alum to access content licensed specifically for alums.
Alums can access
- HOLLIS search results
- "Request item" options for Harvard Library collections
- Apply for borrowing privileges to activate this option
- ONLINE ACCESS links to public domain and Open Access (OA) material
- READ ONLINE (1-hour loan) - requires free account with the Internet Archive's Open Library
- My Favorites: saved ("pinned") items, searches, and alerts
PRO TIP: make WorldCat your new go-to, especially for books. WorldCat is a mega-catalog of library holdings across the U.S. and beyond. It’s the easiest way to find out which libraries near you hold a copy of a specific book.
Online access via Harvard
Harvard offers special database access for alumni. How to Use Harvard Library as an Alum has all of the details. Look for:
- Alumni Electronic Resources (list with brief descriptions of what you have access to, plus top open access resources)
- Known Issues under Get Help
Harvard's Digital Collections are open to all.
Other ways to get access
Public libraries offer a much broader and richer array of resources than most people realize. They are also "use it or lose it" public goods, so make sure to engage with your library as much as you can - visit the branch or the website, borrow materials, and send feedback.
- Database access, local or statewide
- Example: Online Resources from the Boston Public Library
- Example: TexShare
- Audiobooks, Kindle books, streaming video, and other electronic loans
- Interlibrary Loan
- Tickets and passes for cultural attractions
- Example: San Francisco Public Library's passes)
- Tools, toys, and other object collections
- Example: Berkeley Tool Library
- Example: Musical Instruments from Montgomery County Libraries
- Community events and classes
Note: the examples above are from American libraries. While services may differ, you can find public libraries and other public institutions in any country.
State Universities and Colleges
Especially helpful for academic research materials. Services for state residents may include:
- Buildings open to the public (sometimes only during specific hours)
- On-site database access
- Borrowing privileges
National Libraries & Special Collections
These institutions steward unique materials and cultural heritage for everyone's benefit. Most are open to all researchers. Services include:
Registration and appointments often required. Typically, all you need to register is a government-issued ID.
- Huntington Library Registered Reader
- Yale's Beinecke Library Reader Registration
- Library of Congress Reader Identification Card
- National Library of China Reader Registration
Many repositories have a system for requesting scans from collection materials. Most charge a fee for the service.
Find an Open Access Version
If you find a paywall on one site, remember that the same material may be available for free somewhere else.
Many scholars publish their academic research in "open access" formats that make them accessible to all. Some publishers allow scholars to make individual articles and chapters open access, and some publish entire journals and books this way. Scholars also often self-archive their work on their personal websites and/or in a repository via their institution (e.g. Harvard's DASH) or via a subject-based repository (such as arXiv).
- Select the "Open Access" option in the filter menu
- Check for "VIEW PDF (OA)" or "VIEW PREPRINT" links
On the web
Two popular tools for locating an OA version:
Have a question not answered here?
This guide extensively incorporates information and advice from Steve Beardsley (Associate Director of Access Services), and is adapted from the work of Cheryl LaGuardia (retired Harvard research librarian).