Put this resource in the research toolkit you're starting to assemble for yourself: it will be handy for lots of academic projects you'll undertake here. OBOs are selective (not comprehensive) reading lists, put together and annotated by scholars, and they are regularly reviewed and when necessary, updated. Often the situation you face in information seeking isn't a lack of resources, but rather, knowing what to prioritize in your reading, and which scholars have done most to push the research conversation forward. OBO helps you listen in.
Examples of entries that might be useful for broad topics related to course themes:
Databases are often necessary complements to HOLLIS. These special search tools -- organized around an academic discipline (like anthropology or literature), an area of the world (like Africa or the U.S.), or a particular information type (statistics or newspapers, for example) -- give you consistent and deep (rather than scattered) access to a body of knowledge.
You can think of library databases as premium online content -- most of it is not accessible to you freely from Google (or Google Scholar) and it's only available to you because of your association with Harvard, which pays subscription fees on your behalf.
The contents of any library database are never random or accidental: the material you find collected and made searchable there is chosen for inclusion by experts, and designed with the needs of scholars and researchers in mind.
Databases are like lenses: they change what you see and how you see it -- and they offer you easy and efficient ways to bring your questions into sharper focus.
USING HOLLIS WELL: THREE CONSIDERATIONS
1. Understand what it is.
HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles.
When you search "everything," you pull results from both of these databases at the same time. For better or for worse, "everything" is our system default.
2. Know how to work it.
Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front.
3. Take control of your results.
While the broad and panoramic approach to searching HOLLIS can be mind-opening, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your search returns.
When that happens, try one of these easy tricks:
Limit your Everything search results set just to the items listed in the LIBRARY CATALOG.
Your numbers will immediately get smaller. Keep in mind, though, that the results will be heavily weighted toward book-length studies.
Limit your Everything 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).
RESOURCES IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
Despite the fact that our physical items are unavailable and buildings are shuttered, HOLLIS can and should continue to be a key research resource, wherever students are. That's in part because of the sheer size and enormous variety of what it contains, but also because the content students can surface there is substantial.
Here are some ways to think through your digital options in HOLLIS
This service, free to Harvard students even before the pandemic, can be a lifesaver when you find something in the catalog that's essential -- but only available in print.
Scan & Deliver allows you to request a PDF of an article, a portion of a book (and now, a portion of a special collection, under some circumstances). Just remember that the library staff responsible for this service are returning to campus slowly, so the response time (usually within 4 days) may be delayed.
NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.
If HathiTrust has a digitized copy, you'll be able to check it out, reserves-style. Presently, loans are given for 1 hour, automatically renewable if there's no waiting list for the item you're using.
Hathi Trust materials can't be downloaded or printed out (when they're in copyrright), but the upside is that you'll have excellent access to our collection in print, even when you can't use the print.
Normally, your access to HathiTrust items is seamless via Harvard; when you see the record details, click on the link to initiate check out.
NOTE: If you go directly into HathiTrust through the link above, be sure you click on the button, top right and choose Harvard University.
For books not available online via a HOLLIS link or through HathiTrust, the Open Library may be a good next step. You'll need to create a free account to "check out" books (temporarily, for up to 2 weeks).
4. Lamont Front Door Pickup (if you're in / near Cambridge)
Materials that are available for checkout are requested online via HOLLIS; they are paged for you by library staff. When they are ready, you receive an email directing you to schedule a pick up time (15-minutes windows, as available)
Your "default" approach to searching Harvard's catalog, HOLLIS, is probably similar to your Google approach: enter some words, see what comes up, then try again or improve from there.
But BROWSING in the catalog is an under-appreciated research strategy, especially when you're trying to discover your interest. It helps you see how writing ABOUT an author, an idea, an event, etc. has been broken down and categorized. So instead of getting the typical list of titles, you see results in terms of sub-topics. Inspiration may lie there!
HOW DO YOU BROWSE?
Open HOLLIS. Click on the link above the search box. Then select SUBJECT.
What does a Browse search give you? Click on the image above to find out!
TRANSFERABLE KNOWLEDGE TIP: Words Always Matter
Browsing subject headings lists can teach you a lot about searching, because they rely on standardized language and standard ways of qualifying or further describing a give subject.