Welcome from your Course Librarian

This resource guide has been designed for students in Expo E-42b, a Spring 2022 Extension School course taught by Briana Smith. 

   shield Extension school vertias books baskets of wheat oil lamp with flame                         The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find easy access to both the scholarly conversations and primary documents upon which your term project will be built.

Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. You may need to try several search combinations before you strike gold. 

Let me know if questions arise at any point in your project. We'll triage by email or set up a time to meet on Zoom for a personal consultation.  

Enjoy your work! 

Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian, Lamont and Widener Libraries

HOLLIS: Searching in Harvard's Infoscape




1.  Understand what it is.

HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles. 

When you search "everything"  searching both of these databases together, at once. For better or for worse, "everything" is our system default. 


2. Know how to work it.

Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front. 




3. Take control of your results.

While the broad and panoramic approach to searching HOLLIS can be mind-opening, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your search returns.

When that happens, try one of these easy tricks:


bookmark iconLimit your Everything search results set just to the items listed in the LIBRARY CATALOG.

Your numbers will immediately get smaller. Keep in mind, though, that the results will be heavily weighted toward book-length studies.


bookmark iconLimit your Everything search results set to items that are identified as PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES.

You'll eliminate newspaper and magazine materials as well as books, of course, but you'll also raise the visibility of scholarly journal articles in what displays. 


bookmark iconTry limiting your results to publications from the last 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

By doing so you'll get a snapshot of the most recent research trends and scholarly approaches in a field (or around a particular issue).



When you're far from Cambridge, identifying books in print and on shelves in Harvard's library buildings can seem like a futile exercise. You can, however, often get your hands on items your find in HOLLIS even if you live many miles away from the Yard.


1.  WorldCatthis is a database of library catalogs and useful for identifying college, university, and other  library collections that are in your vicinity.  Search for the title and then enter your ZIPCODE to identify your options.

With WorldCat, you're going beyond the BorrowDirect consortium and beyond our reciprocal lending agreements.  However, as long as any of the area libraries allow you in (often a phone call or a scan of the website will clarify policy), you'll be in luck!

2. Check the catalog of the large PUBLIC LIBRARY in your area.  Depending on the region, the size of the library, its mission, and its funding, a local public library may have a significant research component to its collection (The Boston Public Library at Copley Square is a prime example), including e-books and some digitized materials that Harvard may not have.

Public libraries large and small also have access to ebooks, and can be a rich alternative source if Harvard doesn't have what you need or you can't get to our copy.

3. Ask your local library about an INTERLIBRARY LOAN.  Libraries routinely borrow from each other on behalf of their patrons; if you have a library card, you should be able to request it (or have a librarian do so).  ILL can take a bit of time, however. You might wait a week or a bit more before the item arrives. Some places charge a small fee for the service. 

5. If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there.


bookmark iconScan and Deliver

When an article you need is available in a print journal at Harvard but not online, you can ask us to make a PDF for you through a service called Scan and Deliver.

We'll send you an email when it's ready for downloading, typically between 1 and 4 days after you place the request. Scan and Deliver is a free service to Harvard affiliates.

Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.  

Searching for Scholarship Beyond HOLLIS

Databases are like lenses: they change what you see and how you see it -- and they offer you easy and efficient ways to bring your questions into sharper focus. Every academic discipline has at least one subject database that's considered the disciplinary gold standard -- a reliable, (relatively) comprehensive, and accurate record of the books that scholars are publishing, and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals.  

You may not need to range beyond HOLLIS for this assignment, but if you do -- or if you want to do some controlled exploration, we recommend:

bookmark iconAcademic Search Premier

An excellent next step after you've sampled what's available in HOLLIS.

Like HOLLIS, it's also  multidisciplinary in its coverage and it also provides you with a range of article types (some scholarly, some not). But while still broad, it's a smaller universe than HOLLIS. 

Depending  on your topic, in fact, searching in ASP may even be a more efficient route to quality information, simply because it will deliver a more manageable result set.

bookmark iconJSTOR

This databases overs core  scholarly journals in 75 fields; historical fields are represented well here. Some of its content is open access and easily discoverable on the web; some is made available only because of your Harvard affiliation and the library's subscription to JSTOR; the most recent issues of journals may not even appear in a JSTOR search, however, if they are behind the database's 1-5 year "moving wall." 

bookmark icon Historical Abstracts 

The premier database for scholarly historical study, 1450- present (excluding the U.S. and Canada). 

bookmark iconWorldwide Political Science Abstracts


Finding Primary Sources in HOLLIS


Primary sources abound in Harvard libraries even those, like Widener or Lamont, that are neither "special collections" nor part of a dedicated information archive.

How can you search efficiently for them? Here are strategies to use in the catalog portion of our HOLLIS discovery system.


  • Work with date filter on the right side of a results screenThe HOLLIS catalog is massive -- and old in the best sense.  Publications produced during the era or time period you're studying may become visible that way.  With smallish results, you can resort by date ascending to make the oldest items visible first. 
  • Limit your results to a Harvard Library special collection or archive (Schlesinger,  Harvard University Archives, etc.).
  • Once you've chosen the archive or special collections from the list, you can add additional precision by limiting again, to Archives (under record type).
  • Use the Format limit to display materials by type. "Primary sources" will be identified with real granularity; they exist as everything from photographs to correspondence to diaries to clipping files and scrapbooks (for instance). NB: this filter has been applied inconsistently by catalogers, so use it judiciously as a marker of what's available to you.


  • Add a century marker to a keyword search (18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, for example). 
  • Try adding the keyword sources to a keyword string.  This trick will sometimes help you pull up primary materials that have been collected and republished in book form or that have been reformatted (as microfilm or microfiche or in digital form). 
  • Some other words to try are  anthologycollected, readerdocumentarydocuments 


Finding Primary Sources Online





Declassified government documents covering U.S. policy toward critical world events – including their military, intelligence, diplomatic and human rights dimensions – from 1945 to the present. Each collection is assembled by foreign policy experts and features chronologies, glossaries, bibliographies, and scholarly overviews.



Google Scholar Settings for Harvard


One simple change can turn Google Scholar into what's effectively a Harvard database -- with links to the full-text of articles that the library can provide. Here's what to do:  Look to the left of the GS screen and click on the "hamburger" (); then click on .  Look for "Library Links."  Then type Harvard University into the search box and save your choice.  As long as you allow cookies, the settings will keep.  

Creating Citations and Organizing Sources


bookmark icon Zoteroa free, open source citation management tool will take the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page to the next level. 

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero.  A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here: http://guides.library.harvard.edu/zotero.


bookmark iconZoteroBib, a free citation generator, may be the answer for your E-25 paper. It lets you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software.  Some of its handy features are described on this page.