Welcome to Harvard's Libraries. Our extensive collections, print and electronic, await you. This research guide is a starting point for your exploration.

Please feel free to email with questions. We can make an appointment for you to come in, and we can talk at length about your project.

  • Emily Bell (emilybell@fas.harvard.edu) Research Librarian and Liaison to the Department of History of Science, Lamont Library
  • Fred Burchsted (burchst@fas.harvard.edu) Research Librarian and Liaison to the Department of History of Science, Widener Library

Getting What You Need

How can you get your hands/eyes on material?


HOLLIS is the center of the Library ecosystem. This is often the best first step to see if we have something. In HOLLIS, click on "Online Access" or open the record and scroll down to the "Access Options" section. Check the HOLLIS section of this guide for more guidance.

Browser Plugins for Library Access

Harvard Library Bookmark and Lean Library plugins can help you find out if we have access to books and articles online.

Off-Site Storage

Books and other materials stored in facilities not on Harvard's main campus. Request this material through HOLLIS:

  • Select "Request Pick Up" in the Access section of the HOLLIS Record, then enter your Harvard Key.
  • A drop down menu will allow 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 secure reading room on the 1st floor (formerly the Periodicals Room). Most Offsite storage material is available for scanning via Scan & Deliver (see below). 

Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan

Use Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan to request PDFs of articles and book chapters from HOLLIS 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 via InterLibrary Loan:

  • 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 (such as: Box 77 folder 4. This information 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.


Borrow Direct allows Harvard students, faculty, and staff to request items from other libraries for delivery to Harvard within 4 business days. If the item you need is not available, try searching our partner institutions' collections in BorrowDirect.

Purchase Request

If there are materials you'd like to see added to the library's collections, submit a purchase request and we will look into acquiring it. We can buy both physical and electronic copies of materials; specify if have a preference.

Special Collections

Special Collections are rare, unique, primary source materials in the library's collections. To access, 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.

Carrels at Widener Library

Graduate students and visiting scholars are eligible to have a carrel in the Widener Library 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.

Ivy Plus Privileges

Our partnership with BorrowDirect allows physical access to libraries of fellow Ivy Plus institutions: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

Help with Digital Projects

The Digital Scholarship Group offers workshops and support to faculty, students, and staff interested in digital research methods.  See also  GIS Mapping Resources and Visualization Support.

Library Information


Fred Burchsted, Research Librarian in Services for Academic Programs, Widener Library, and Library Liaison to the Departments of History and the History of Science, burchst@fas.harvard.edu, 617-495-4093.

Susan Gilroy, Research Librarian in Services for Academic Programs, Widener Library, and Library Liaison to the Departments of Social Policy and Social Studies, sgilroy@fas.harvard.edu, 617-496-5403.

Kathleen Sheehan, Research Librarian in Services for Academic Programs, Widener Library, and Library Liaison to the Departments of Government and Sociology, ksheehan@fas.harvard.edu, 617-384-8089.

Anna Rakityanskaya. Librarian for Russian and Belarusian collections, rakityan@fas.harvard.edu

Svetlana Rukhelman, Regional Studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, Davis Center. srukhelm@fas.harvard.edu

Diane Sredl, Liaison for Economics and Data Reference Librarian, Lamont Library, govdocs@fas.harvard.edu, 617-496-6936.

Full list of Liaisons

Digital Scholarship Support Group
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. The schedule for summer workshops in data visualization is available.

Baker Library – Harvard Business School
--Research Guides
--Research Assistance
--Historical Collections

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Collection

Harvard Kennedy School Library
--All HKS Library Subject and How To Guides
--Research Help

Law School Library
--Ask a Librarian
--Research Guides
--Research Consult Request Form

  • Check Harvard Library Bookmark This browser extension recognizes citations and tries to find them in Harvard Library holdings. 
  • Lean Library Similar to Check Harvard Library Bookmark, though they function a little differently. Experiment to see if what works for you.
  • Browzine This app enables easy reading and browsing of journals and lets you set alerts. (It doesn't include every subscription we have; so far, nothing does that).
  • Google Scholar Settings Search for "Harvard University - Try Harvard Library" to see the "Try Harvard Library" button within Google Scholar search results.

*If the above tools don't find the full text, it's worth searching in HOLLIS, (by journal title if article title doesn't work).

Other tools:

  • Statistics and Data-Harvard and Harvard Library have many data management tools, groups and options. Check out our Data Librarian's guide to statisicts and data (not just for beginners), which leads to other resources. We also have some resources listed on the Statistics/Data page of this guide. There are other HL resources for acquiring, managing and using data. If you don't see what you need, Ask us!
  • Citation and Research Management Tools see the Citing Sources and Organizing Research page in this guide