Understand What HOLLIS Is

HOLLIS, as you already know from watching the course videos, is two databases in one. 

It combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record of every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles, along with some book citations.  Some of these items we own; others we don't, but if you find it in HOLLIS, we can almost always get it into your hands quickly.

So think of HOLLIS as a discovery platform -- a way to search panoramically across subjects, languages, time periods, and information formats.

Know How to Build Good Searches

Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front. 

conventions to use quotation marks, Boolean operators, truncation with an asterisk, parenthesis for synonyms

Take Control of Your Search Results

While the amount of information HOLLIS contains is awesome, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your keyword search returns.

When that happens, try one of these easy tricks to bring your results into sharper focus:

Limit your search results set just to the items listed in as  BOOKS or BOOK CHAPTERS
  • Your numbers will immediately get smaller. And with book chapters, you may discover a great resource that you might not have seen by relying solely on the titles of books.
 Limit your search results set to items that are identified as PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES.
  • You'll eliminate newspaper and magazine materials as well as books, of course, but you'll also raise the visibility of scholarly journal articles in what displays. 
Think about limiting your results to publications from the last 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.
  • By doing so you'll get a snapshot of the most recent research trends and scholarly approaches in a field (or around a particular issue).
See also: Common Words and Phrases to Turbo-charge a Search


Get PDFs From Us


Scan and Deliver

When an article you find in HOLLIS is not owned at Harvard, or is available in a printed journal volume but not online, you can ask us to make a PDF for you through a service called Scan and Deliver.

We'll send you an email when it's ready for downloading, typically between 1 and 4 days after you place the request. Scan and Deliver is a free service to Harvard community members.

Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.

Track Down Copies of Books via Interlibrary Loan

What should you do if a book you find in HOLLIS and want to use is:

  • checked out to someone else;
  • declared missing or lost  in the catalog record you are looking at (alas, it happens);
  • on order (that is, coming into the library collection but not yet arrived at Harvard); or
  • in process (that is, it's arrived at Harvard but some final things are being done to get it ready for the "stacks," our word for the library shelves)?

In every one of these cases,  open the full item record and look for the INTERLIBRARY LOAN (formerly BORROW DIRECT) option toward the bottom of the screen (under Access Options and just before the call number). Follow the prompts from there.

We'll get a copy of the book for you, within 4 days, from another university library.