How to Get It

Options for accessing materials through the library.

Reminder: HOLLIS does not contain everything Harvard owns, and Harvard doesn’t own everything in HOLLIS, but we can get you almost anything. On the home page you will find direct links to Interlibrary Loan, Borrow Direct, and the Purchase Request form.

Does Harvard have a copy?

If something is in the Library Catalog, Harvard has a copy. Look for "Get It" to see your access options.

In "Everything," you cannot always see whether Harvard has a copy. If you don’t see availability information, click "Check Access Options" to start the process of locating a copy.


"Online Access" means there is likely an electronic copy available.

Online Access does its best to connect many very different library systems. Often, it takes you right to the full-text. Sometimes, it will take you somewhere unexpected. If you end up somewhere that looks like a database and has a search box, try searching there for the title of the item. If in doubt, Ask a Librarian for help tracking down the source.

"Check access options"

"Check access options" means there may be a copy available, but HOLLIS hasn't automatically connected to it. Select "Check access options" to search our online resources. If HOLLIS is unable to find an online version, it will display other options, often including print holdings.

If you’re starting from an article or chapter title, "Check access options" can often take you from the title in “Everything” to the location information in the relevant Library Catalog listing for the book or journal. It uses information such as an ISBN or ISSN to connect different library systems to each other.

This doesn't always work: if "Check access options" fails, you can often get what you want by examining the citation yourself. For example, if you're looking for an article or book chapter, try searching HOLLIS for the journal or book title. (To find the title to search for in HOLLIS, look for "is part of" in the original record.)

"Available" or "Currently unavailable"

"Available" or "Currently unavailable" means the library owns at least one physical copy. Select the library name to see more information about that library's copy of the book. Or, select "hours & info" to learn more about a particular library's policies.

"Request to Copy or Visit"

This signals a special collections item that must be viewed on-site in the collection's reading room. Select "Request to Copy or Visit" to be taken to the Special Collections Request system, where you can place requests to view the material at a certain time or place orders for reproductions. Contact the collection that owns the item for more specific information.

Special collections house archives, manuscripts, rare books, etc., and their collection items are brought to you in a reading room. By contrast, circulating collections allow you to browse the shelves, or "stacks," and most items can be borrowed and taken out of the library.

Note: if the library holds many volumes, you may need to select "show more items" to see the full list.

If you are going to the shelf

The call number is the most important piece of information: you will need this even if HOLLIS displays floor and row number locations for the item. Look for an alphanumeric code following the library name. You can find call number location charts, maps, and friendly staff available to help in each library.

Pro tip: you can text yourself a call number. Look for this option in the "Send to" menu.

Example call numbers

If you are requesting "pick up" or a chapter/article .pdf

Make sure you are signed in so your options will display.

  • To request the entire book or volume, look for: "Request Pick Up" (if a copy is showing as available, usually 1-4 business days), "Borrow Direct" and/or "Interlibrary Loan."
  • To request a .pdf of an individual chapter or article, look for "Scan & Deliver."

Whichever option you choose, you will be notified via email when the item has arrived for you to pick up or download.

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