Start with Books

Reference books

  • Use reference books (specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, bibliographies, and handbooks) early in the research process to find topic overviews.
  • Continue to use reference books throughout the research process as you discover new areas to explore.
  • Remember that reference books often synthesize the research on broad topic areas and can be more helpful than article searches when you're just starting your research. 


  • Use monographs (books that provide a detailed treatment of a single subject or an aspect of a subject) for in-depth information. Examples of monographs include a history of a single institution, an analysis of the evolution of an aspect of higher education, or a study of a particular population in colleges or universities.
  • Monographs can be a useful source for finding primary sources.

Use HOLLIS to search for books


HOLLIS: Searching Smarter

Select "Library catalog" to exclude articles and focus on books. 

Just beginning your research?

  • Add (handbooks OR encyclopedias) to your search terms to find overviews and identify seminal authors and works

Results too large?

  • Refine your results by publication date, subject term, language, etc.
  • Add another keyword or the search term history for better focus

Results too small?

  • Try searching using the language of the period you are studying (hispanic american students instead of latinx students)
  • Click on a title that looks good and check the Subjects listed in Details. Click the linked Subject or use the search box to combine the subject term(s) with additional keywords to find more items.

More HOLLIS help

HOLLIS: My Favorites

Use My Favorites to organize your research. To access My Favorites, click the pin at the top-right. 

You can save items, searches, and search histories.


HOLLIS: Browse by call number

In addition to searching by topic words and names of universities, try a call number browse search. When you've identified the call number for an area, a call number browse will locate other items with the same call number. 

Choose starts with/browse in HOLLIS. Institutions are cataloged in either a Widener classification or a Library of Congress classification. When browsing by call number, try both classifications.

All Widener classifications begin with EducU; here's an example for a browse of Harvard University:

Here is an example of a call number browse for a Library of Congress classification for Harvard:

Not in HOLLIS?

Search WorldCat, a catalog of over 40 million items from libraries across the country.

Scholarly Articles

Although HOLLIS includes articles, the databases below focus your search by discipline and/or provide sophisticated search features to improve your results. Meet with a librarian to learn strategies for efficient, effective searching.