What is HOLLIS?

Hollis Search TipsHOLLIS is the Harvard University Libraries discovery interface. It includes both the library catalog, resources which Harvard holds or owns, and a number of other databases, collections of resources to which Harvard has access. 

catalog is a list of records for the holdings in a collection. Each record gives the citation information for a resource which is in the collection.

database is a collection of resources or references for resources which are not necessarily gathered together because they all are in the same collection, but rather are gathered together because they all relate to the same area of knowledge. 

The library owns and has access to materials in its library catalog, but not necessarily all the materials in its databases. It depends on copyright.

How do you find materials in HOLLIS relevant to South Asian Studies?

Resources in libraries are organized by subject area, and these subject areas are indicated by the first part of a resource's call number. 

call number is a number given to a resource to help locate it. A call number also indicates which subject area a resource is in.


Āli Rājā, Cashin, Cashin, David G, and Bāṃlā Ekāḍemī 1993. The Ocean
of Love : Ali Raja's Agama/Jnana Sagara
. 1st ed. Dhaka: Bangla Academy.            

PK1718 .A434 A34 1993

A few notes:

  • This resource is classified under P for Languages and Literatures, and under PK for Indo-Iranian Languages and Literatures.
  • PK1651 to 1799 are Bengali language resources.
  • The second part of the call number organizes materials by author name so that they can be further ordered.
  • The last part of the call number is actually the year in which the resource was published.
  • Use the Library of Congress Classification Outline to understand the logic behind the full gamut of LC call numbers.

How are South Asian materials classified?

Harvard has a historical classification system of its own, referred to as the Old Widener system. For materials classified under this system, materials relevant to South Asian Studies can be found under the following call numbers:

  • 1200-09800 (Linguistics)
  • 24200-29300 (Folklore)
  • IndL [Browse by Call number - Other]
  • I-Tib [Browse by Call number - Old Widener]

For materials classified under the Library of Congress system now used by the library, South Asian materials can be found under the following call numbers:

  • B (philosophy, psychology, religion)
  • BL (religions, mythology, rationalism)
  • CB (history of civilization)
  • D (world history)
  • DS (Asia)
  • G (geology, anthropology, recreation)
  • GR (folklore)
  • M (music)
  • P (philology, linguistics)
  • PK (Indo-Iranian languages and literatures)
  • PL4601–4890 (Tamil and other Dravidian languages)
  • PN (literature general)

How do you search by call numbers?

How to find materials by call number in the library catalog:

  • Open HOLLIS, Harvard's library catalog.
  • Above the search bar, there are options for different types of searches. Select Starts with / Browse
  • A new search box will appear. On the left of the search box is the text Browse by followed by a dropdown menu. Click the downward arrow and select Call Number - Library of Congress,  Call Number - Old Widener, or Call Number - Other from the dropdown menu (for Old Widener and other specialized call numbers, select Code: Local call number, instead). This tells the search to look for materials which are classified under a specific call number.
  • Type a call number into in the search box, and add an asterisk * after the last character in the call number of which you are certain. 
  • Select the Search button in the bottom right corner of the expanded search box. 

This search will retrieve materials in the library collection classified under a specific call number.

Searching HOLLIS by Language

To find materials in non-Roman scripts, search for both transliterated and original scripts: 

Search in the original script: Current best practice is for items to be cataloged by their original titles, in the original script. HOLLIS accepts non-roman scripts in the search box; however, some records in HOLLIS have romanization only and do not have parallel titles in the original script.

Search in transliteration: Transliteration is the conversion of the written script of one language into another script. When this transformation entails conversion from any non-Latin script(s) into the Roman (i.e., Latin) alphabet (e.g., from Devanagari "" to Roman "a") it is called romanization. Many older records have only transliterations, so it's important to try your search both in the original and in roman transliteration. HOLLIS ignores diacritical marks in South Asian languages. That said, systems differ, so try searching both with and without diacritical marks.

  • Harvard Library uses the American Library Association and Library of Congress Romanization tables for the bibliographic description of resources in non-Roman scripts, which you may consult here: ALA-LC Romanization Tables

Use search filters to specify the language of materials you are seeking:

Advanced Search Language drop-down menu

If you use the language filter in the Advanced Search form, you will be able to retrieve all items published in the chosen language. However, you will need to enter additional keywords.

HOLLIS Advanced Search showing Subject: Sanskrit and Subject: philology; with Language: Tamil









HOLLIS example showing Code: MARC language contains hin (Hindi)

Code: MARC language

Unlike the language drop-down menu also available in Advanced Search, this field allows you to see all items published in the chosen language, without having to enter additional keywords.

Add the desired code from the MARC language code list.

Example: search for all Hindi-language journals dated 1947.


Refine your search results by language:

After you have entered a search and you are viewing the list of results, you may refine those results by selecting a language facet on the right, under "Refine my Results."  

Example: search for Urdu language newspapers. Additionally, see a different example below:

snapshot illustrating use of the language filter to refine search results

Try an auxiliary approach. Use search filters to specify the place where the materials you are seeking were published:


HOLLIS snapshot illustrating use of MARC place of pub code to refine an Advanced SearchCode: MARC place of pub

You can see the list of MARC place of publication codes organized alphabetically or by geographic region. (If you have trouble finding the country you're looking for, there is a cross-referenced list available.). Unlike the “place of publication field,” which is free-text and uses the publisher’s language for place, the MARC place codes key individual cities and other place names to a country or a U.S. state.

Example: to find all items in the Library Catalog that were published in Bangladesh in the last 5 years, you can use the place code “bg” instead of having to search “place of publication” for Dhaka OR Chittagong OR Khulna....

Note: this is not a failsafe search, as not all Library Catalog records are coded for place of publication.

What if Harvard does not have a resource in HOLLIS?

It could be the case that an item you're seeking has been acquired by or donated to the library, but has not yet been cataloged and processed. Please arrange a consultation to view such materials. If Harvard does not, in fact, provide direct access, then try:

Interlibrary Loan

If a resource is not available at Harvard Libraries, it can be obtained through the library's document delivery service. For example, if you find an item record in HOLLIS for such an item, you may see a link therein to request it via BorrowDirect (hard copy delivery), Scan & Deliver (digital scans), or Interlibrary Loan (either hard copy delivery or digital scans). Click whichever option works best for you. In case you were wondering, Scan & Deliver and book requests via HOLLIS are also available for many Harvard Library materials.

Sometimes the item you're seeking does not appear in HOLLIS. In that case, you must create and/or sign into your "ILL and Scan & Deliver" account (access via the "Submit an Interlibrary Loan Request" button on the Interlibrary Loan page) and submit an online request form. There are specific forms for different document types (e.g. book, article). A librarian will then contact other institutions which hold the resource to request to borrow it on your behalf. You will be notified by email when the library has located and subsequently received the materials. Researchers can track the status of their request through their "ILL and Scan & Deliver" account, as well as see the due dates of any inter-library loaned materials which they have checked out, and request loan extensions. To see what you have checked out from Harvard Library's collection instead, you should log into My Account/Renew in HOLLIS.

If you are seeking something for which these options don't suffice, please be in contact with the library liaison to South Asian Studies, Ramona Crawford, to find out whether an alternative approach is available to you. Particularly if you are a Harvard graduate student, check in with your librarian first if you are asked to pay any fees.