HOLLIS Catalog

Two Versions of HOLLIS

We have two online catalogs  (HOLLIS+, and HOLLIS Classic). It’s worth getting to know both of them.

HOLLIS+ and HOLLIS Classic share many great features, including:

  • phrase searching (searching for multiple words as a phrase, by putting them in quotation marks)
  • subject, title, author, and call number browsing (described below)
  • non-Roman character searching
  • easy exports of citations
  • access to library account (renewing books, etc.)
  • use of Boolean operators (OR, AND, NOT)

In addition, HOLLIS+ includes:

  • virtual browse (see what books would be next to each other across our collections)
  • the option to filter results to items that are “Not checked out” - updated 3 times per day
  • Tables of Contents of many books and journals
  • easy options to refine searches (facets) by publication date, format, subject, author, language, location, etc.
  • searching across books AND articles
  • Finding aids from OASIS
  • Visual image data from VIA and other image databases

Use capital letters with Boolean searches in HOLLIS+: ("book collecting" OR "book collectors") AND Boston

Subject Searching

To do a systematic topic search in HOLLIS+ or HOLLIS Classic, search any reasonable keywords, choose pertinent records, and look at the Subject terms. These are terms chosen by the Library of Congress to express the subject matter of the book. Once you find the proper term for your topic, redo the search using that term. For example, the following Subject terms may apply:.

Artists' books
Authors and readers
Authorship History
Book collecting
Book collectors
Book industries and trade
Books and reading
Booksellers’ catalogs
Catalogs, Booksellers’
Early printed books
French imprints
Private libraries
Publishers and publishing
Religious literature Publishing
Transmission of texts

Subject Browsing:
You may browse the Subject term system in HOLLIS.  If you browse the term "Books and reading", you will retrieve the Subject "Books and reading" broken down to show various aspects. This is often very useful.

For HOLLIS+, use the “Browse HOLLIS By…” link on the basic search screen and choose By subject.

In HOLLIS Classic, on the basic search screen, adjust the menu to Subject beginning with...

The Library of Congress Classification is available online.

Primary Source Terms:
Several of these added terms (called subdivisions) indicate primary sources:
--Description and travel
--Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
--Personal narratives (refers to accounts of wars and diseases only)
--Sources (usually refers to collections of published primary sources)
e.g., Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924 -- Manuscripts -- Indexes.
Note: Do not enter hyphens (--) into HOLLIS or HOLLIS Classic keyword searches.

Scanning the Shelves Online

Browsing the actual shelves allows you to dip into books and immediately gauge their value. You will, however, miss any books that are checked out or in the Harvard Depository. You can often browse these too, although you cannot dip, by using the call number search in either HOLLIS+ or HOLLIS Classic.

For HOLLIS+, use the “Browse HOLLIS By…” link on the basic search screen and choose the call number system you want to browse by from the dropdown menu on the left. If you don’t see the call number system you want, choose “Other call number.”

In HOLLIS Classic, on the basic search screen, adjust the menu to Call number (Library of Congress) or other system including Widener call number.

Find the call numbers for your search by doing keyword searches or subject browses and noting the call numbers for appropriate items.


Look for specialized subject bibliographies in the HOLLIS Catalog: Search, e.g., <"Book industries and trade" and bibliography> as a Subject Keyword search in HOLLIS or in WorldCat

If Harvard Doesn't Have It

  • Look in Borrow Direct (See Getting What You Need).
  • If not in Borrow Direct, look in WorldCat (below), and submit an Interlibrary Loan request
  • When in WorldCat, find the Series field on the WorldCat record. If your book is a volume in a series, Harvard may own the whole series and have one HOLLIS record for the series, rather than a record for each volume
  • If pre-1923, look in HathiTrust, Google Books and Internet Archive.
  • Submit a purchase request in HOLLIS. If it is a very new book, we may have received it, but it is not in HOLLIS yet.


For material not available at Harvard, search in: WorldCat (the OCLC Union Catalog) is a reference resource with over 45 million bibliographic records representing 400 languages. WorldCat covers information dating back to the 11th century and includes holdings information from libraries in 45 countries. Records for books, archives/manuscripts, serials and other media (visual and sound recordings) are included and can be used as search limits in “Advanced Search.” Includes Boston-area libraries.

Importance of WorldCat:

  • 1. Subject searching beyond Harvard. For periodicals: Advanced search. Document type-Serial Publications
  • 2. Clues for finding items in the HOLLIS Catalog, e.g., volumes in monograph series for which HOLLIS has only one record for the whole series.
  • 3. Finding non-Harvard books in Boston-area libraries.
  • 4. Verifying references for InterLibrary Loan. Give them the Accession no. at the bottom of the record.

Other Catalogs

Theatrum Catalogorum collates library catalogs from every major European country

Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog allows simultaneous searching of the holdings of many major libraries in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, and the UK. It functions as a sort of European Union Catalog, and a counterpart to the mainly US/Canadian WorldCat database. Individual library catalogs may also be searched singly; their availability and coverage of older materials varies. In addition, KVK provides access to the German Union Catalog of Serials and to German book trade catalogs, including German Books in Print.

Catalogue Collectif de France contains:

  • Catalogue des Fonds des Bibliothèques Municipales Rétroconvertis
  • BnF catalogue général
  • Catalogue du Système Universitaire de Documentation/Sudoc

Copac National, Academic, and Specialist Library Catalogue is a collective catalog of numerous British libraries.

English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), 1473-1800, has over 470,000 catalog (no full text) entries listing books, periodicals, newspapers and some ephemera printed before 1801. Works published in Britain, Ireland, British colonies, and the US are included, together with items printed elsewhere which contain significant text in English, Welsh, Irish or Gaelic. Books falsely claiming London publication are included. Many of the included works are available full text in Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online. More information on EEBO and ECCO.

Istituto Centrale per il catalogo Unico: Indice SBN

Heritage of the Printed Book (formerly Hand Press Books Database) includes almost 3 million records for European books of the hand-press period (c. 1455 to 1830) from the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL). More on the the HPB Database.

Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalog (1801-1919) offers citations of major research library holdings on all print materials published in the U. S. and British Empire, all books in English wherever published, and translations from English.

Alte und Seltene Drucke offers links to several German catalogs of early printing.

Print Retrospective National Library Catalogs

Bibliothèque Nationale, et al. Catalogue Général Des Livres Imprimés De La Bibliothèque Nationale. Auteurs. Paris: Imprimerie nationale. 231 vols.
Widener:  West Stacks Reading Room

Gesamtverzeichnis Des Deutschsprachigen Schrifttums (Gv) : 1700-1910. 161 vols.
Muenchen; New York; London ; Paris: Saur, 1979.
Widener:  West Stacks Reading Room

Great Britain
The British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books to 1975. 360 vols.
London; New York: Bingley; Saur, 1979.
Widener:  West Stacks Reading Room

Bibliografia Nazionale Italiana.
Firenze: [s.n.], 1958. 43 vols.
Widener: B 2303.31F

United States
National Union Catalog, Pre-1956 Imprints; a Cumulative Author List Representing Library of Congress Printed Cards and Titles Reported by Other American Libraries.
London,: Mansell, 1968.
Widener:  West Stacks Reading Room