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How To Browse the Stacks When the Library is Closed

Provides suggestions and strategies for simulating browsing for discovery

The value of browsing

Browsing the stacks is not just a favorite past-time for academics, but rather a strategy that many students and scholars employ as part of their research process, both as a means of discovering new resources and exploring new topics.  Recognizing this need, below are some suggestions for recreating this experience while the physical libraries are closed.

Strategies for Browsing

Recommended Strategies Explanation
Partnering with a liaison librarian Your liaison librarian can help to identify strategies and alternatives to physically browsing the stacks based on your specific interests and research needs.  Sometimes you liaison librarian can help you discover digitized archives and collections you may not have discovered otherwise, or help you request special-order digitization (such as multiple issues of whole journals via the Center for Research Libraries) to browse, and much more. Contact you liaison librarian (or a First Year Librarian) by email or use the Ask-A-Librarian service to identify the best person to assist you!
Browse by Call Number (HOLLIS Starts With Browse) This browsing feature in HOLLIS allows you to use library call numbers (Library of Congress and others) to locate materials in a specific classification which represents both topic/subject matter and proximity to similar items on the virtual shelf. Browsing the call number indexes in this way can be used in conjunction with the HOLLIS shelf view function below to discover resources on a given topic that may be physically held in different campus locations and collections.
HOLLIS Shelf View You'll find the "Shelf View" in HOLLIS at the bottom of a book or journal record, which will help you to identify the items that would typically be along side it on the shelf.  Use this feature in conjunction with browsing the call number indexes in HOLLIS.  A librarian can explain how to navigate to certain promising areas of the LC classes and their corresponding ranges in the Old Widener or other classifications (like the Houghton "Ms" ones for manuscripts)
HOLLIS subject headings

Many of the items in HOLLIS are organized using the Library of Congress Classification which uses a system of call number system to organize books and other materials by assigning them a subject heading and a corresponding call number.  These topical subject headings are found in the catalog record for individual titles and represent different disciplines (B for philosophy and psychology; HM for sociology).  The subject heading "Social media -- Censorship" (call number HM742) can be searched or browsed in HOLLIS in order to find similar items on similar themes. 

Widener 360 model This 3D virtual model can be used to browse volumes in Widener Library's Loker Reading Room. This strategy has been used by an alumnus trying to find a book he’d seen in Loker years ago. Another patron also reported using it to browse Loker.
Browse Library Reserve Lists Topically To glimpse which titles, topics, or authors are assigned in courses this semester via Library Reserves, you can click the radio button labeled “Reserves (Books & Media),” in HOLLIS “Advanced Search,” then select a field on the left (such as Keywords anywhere), and type in your search terms. 
Harvard University Syllabus Explorer The Syllabus Explorer provides a birds-eye view into the assigned reading lists of a huge number of fascinating courses offered at Harvard. These lists can give you examples of materials being recommended to students in classes on specific topics.
Arts & Humanities Citation Index “Cited Reference Search” via Web of Science

This resource can be used to identify where particular works of literature have been cited,  with particular reference to discovering more recent publications (articles, books) that cite earlier works and earlier works that are heavily cited.  As such, it can be useful for tracing connections and topics through the literature, finding materials on similar themes, and the impact or significance of specific works.

Get the Browzine app. This mobile application facilitates quick and easy access to thousands of academic journals' tables of contents (and full text) from the comfort of your cell phone screen, tablet or desktop.  Note Browzine does not provide access to all of Harvard's journal subscriptions, so some titles may still need to be accessed through HOLLIS.
Oxford Bibliographies Online

This reference platform provides detailed background and introductory information on a variety of academic topics with curated lists of key resources and current scholarship for further research.  Includes original commentary and annotations by expert scholars

Using book reviews In HOLLIS, put the book title (subtitle optional) in quotes to search it as an exact phrase: "the well-wrought urn" or "the well-wrought urn: studies in the structure of poetry". The "reviews" filter sometimes helps.
Additional book reviews might be available via LION (Literature Online) Criticism