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HOLLIS User Guide

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


HOLLIS is the library's main search interface. It includes the Harvard library catalog as well as a huge (and more heterogeneous) collection of citations for a variety of materials, including articles and book chapters.


Sign In

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

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

Note: alums must access online resources via the links on's page for alums. Alums can still use their HOLLIS accounts to manage requests, save favorites, and personalize results, but HOLLIS's "view online" links will only work if the item is publicly accessible, as is the case with Harvard-digitized or HathiTrust items.

My Account

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

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

Find 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

What will I find if I choose Library Catalog?

*Items on Harvard’s shelves includes books, journals, newspapers, maps, DVDs, manuscripts, images, archives, and much more. 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).

Note: 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.

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.

What if the item I want isn't available at Harvard?

Even if Harvard doesn’t currently own an item, we can usually get a copy for you. “How to Get It” will take you through the steps.

If you don't find what you need in HOLLIS, don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian for help figuring out how to get a copy of what you need. You can also suggest we buy a copy for our collection.