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Search tips for getting started, recommendations for those coming from Classic, and general system documentation for how HOLLIS works.

Basic Search

Sign In

Do this first. Why? Because you need to be signed in to:

  • Make and manage requests (pick up, Scan & Deliver)
  • See otherwise invisible articles
  • Save favorites
  • Save your personalized ranking preferences for articles

Everything v. Library Catalog

HOLLIS does not contain everything Harvard owns, and Harvard doesn’t own everything in HOLLIS, but we can get you almost anything.

Choose Everything if:

  • You want to explore the broadest variety of sources
  • Your topic is very interdisciplinary or very current
  • You already have the title of an article you want

Choose Library Catalog if:

  • You want book-length treatments of a topic
  • You want to search Harvard's shelves
  • You need reliable filters for authors and subjects

Choose a Database if:

  • You want to do the most thorough search
  • You want to search a specific body of material
  • You need search functions HOLLIS doesn’t offer

(More Details Below)

Search Operators

Exact Phrase

Use quotation marks to search for your terms as an exact phrase. Great for title searches.

"capital in the twenty-first century"

Boolean Connectors

AND, OR, and NOT must be in all caps to be recognized as operators.

NSA OR "National Security Agency"

cellular NOT phone

Order of Operations

Use parentheses to define the order of operations.

("Affordable Care Act" OR Obamacare) AND "birth control"


? matches a single character and * matches multiple characters.


gene* therapy

Manage Loans and Requests


To view items you have checked out and current HOLLIS requests, use the drop-down menu that appears next to your name once you have signed in.

Other Accounts

HOLLIS Special Request

Interlibrary Loan and Scan & Deliver (under "main menu")

BorrowDirect (select "my account")


Everything v. Library Catalog - More Details

What will I find if I choose Library Catalog?

  • Items on Harvard’s shelves*
  • Some online-only journals and books
  • Some streaming media

*Items on Harvard’s shelves includes books, journals, newspapers, maps, DVDs, manuscripts, images, archives, and much more. The Catalog’s descriptions are maintained by Harvard staff and follow well-established rules for author names, subjects, and other descriptive components. This is why you'll find more reliable filters when you limit your search to Library Catalog.

The Library Catalog also searches the full text of Harvard’s archival finding aids, as well as the tables of contents for some books (i.e. individual chapter titles).

What will I find if I choose Everything? (NOT** everything!)

  • All Library Catalog contents
  • More e-books
  • More streaming media
  • Book chapters
  • Journal articles
  • Encyclopedia entries
  • Other types of documents
  • Many items Harvard doesn’t own***

**"Everything" is NOT actually everything. It searches the Library Catalog as well as a huge index of citations. This index of citations pulls information from a wide variety of data sources. The descriptions are not under the control of Harvard staff, and they follow a huge variety of conventions for description and naming.

***Even if Harvard doesn’t currently own an item, we can usually borrow a copy for you. “How to Get It” will take you through the steps. Or you can suggest we buy a copy for our collection.