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HOLLIS User Guide

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.

Starts with/Browse

Starts with/Browse takes you to a particular spot in an alphabetical list of all of the titles, subjects, call numbers, etc., in the Library Catalog.


Browsing by author is a great way to find the Catalog’s official entry for an author's name. For example, Tolstoi v. Tolstoy.

It can also reveal errors in the catalog: if you see duplicate entries for the same author, please let us know so that we can correct them!


Browsing by title is helpful for items that come in multiple series, or where a variation in spelling or phrasing might affect a search. See, for example, the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

Note: HOLLIS may use different alphabetization rules than you are used to from other systems, in particular for numbers, symbols, and other special characters. This means you may notice minor variations in the order in which titles appear. For example, some systems treat "&" as equivalent to "and"; HOLLIS alphabetizes the ampersand symbol separately, ahead of numbers, meaning that Town & Country is not adjacent to Town and City.


Browse by subject to see how your topic is organized and subdivided in the Library Catalog's subject headings. See, for example, Isaac Newton.

The Library Catalog pulls its subject headings from the Library of Congress Subject Headings, FAST, and the National Library of Medicine (MeSH). These taxonomies are well-controlled but complex. There are often several pertinent subject terms for a given topic.

(In "Everything," you will see a huge variety of subject headings, and many apparent duplicates. Everything's subjects, which are not available for browsing, come from many different taxonomies.)

Pro tip: It's often best to adapt the subject headings and subheadings you see in your "starts with" list into a new search. From Advanced Search, select "subject" from the "any field" drop-down and add different combinations of subjects and subheadings. For example, you might search for "comic books, strips, etc." to return underground comics along with science fiction comics, and so on.

Call Number

Browsing by call number uses the logic of the library's physical arrangement of items to discover additional material on your topic. It's like looking at an imaginary shelf where nothing is checked out, nothing is in off-site storage, and everything is in the same building.

For example, you can use Library of Congress call numbers to browse materials by and about John Steinbeck across multiple libraries, or you can use Harvard-specific call numbers to browse Houghton's American manuscripts or the reference collection in Widener's Loker Reading Room.

To browse by call number, enter all spaces and punctuation as they appear in your starting call number. If you don't find the call number system you want on the drop-down list, choose "other."

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