Getting Started


Welcome to the Harvard Libraries! We've designed this research guide for new members of the WCFIA  community, to help you maximize your use of our collections during your time here.  

We recognize that Weatherhead Center affiliates arrive with different levels of familiarity with large and complicated university library systems. Some of you may have worked very recently in an academic setting that is comparable to Harvard's and need only basic instruction and a few pointers to be on your way.

Others may be practitioners, re-entering a research environment that has changed profoundly during your years in the field. If you find yourself in this category, please don't hesitate to get in touch so we can help you reacclimate quickly. 

And finally, if you are brand new to North American libraries, you may want to have a look at Translation: A Guide to Harvard Libraries in Plain English during your early days at Harvard.

We hope you will find Harvard libraries, as we do, places that inspire creativity and wonder. Good luck with your research adventures this year!

Hugh Truslow, Head, Social Sciences and Visualization in the Services for Academic Programs unit at Widener and Lamont Libraries, and Librarian for the Fung Library

Other library colleagues who can be of assistance to Weatherhead Center researchers:

Sue Gilroy, Library Liaison to Social Studies and Librarian for Undergraduate Programs for Writing, Lamont and Widener Libraries

Diane Sredl, Data Librarian and Library Liaison to Economics, Lamont Library


Quick Links and Time-Saving Research Tools


Resources, answers, and people:

  • Library.Harvard: the virtual "front door" to library information, the HOLLIS catalog, library databases, and other search tools.
  • Ask a Librarian: a central site for asking questions about the library and browsing a growing knowledge base of FAQs.  Also provides links to research guides, contact information for reference desks, and more.
  • FAS Library Liaisons: every Harvard school, academic department, and program has one or more library liaisons attached to it -- people with the special subject expertise to advise you on research options and library collections that can help you get your work done. This page identifies the librarians who work with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard (including WCFIA programs) and provides email contact information. We'll refer you "out of network," too -- connect you with  library colleagues at Harvard's graduate and professional schools, like Law or the Harvard Kennedy School, for example -- if necessary.
  • Suggest a purchase: if the libraries don't own something, and you think they should, submit your request from this page.  You can also be notified when the item arrives. 

Time-saving research tools and services:

  • Borrow Direct and ILL: services that enable you to borrow books and articles that Harvard libraries don't own or that are not available for another reason here. Books, articles, items on microfilm, DVDs can be ordered through Interlibrary Loan and take approximately 2 weeks to arrive.  Borrow Direct is a books-only form of interlibrary loan with a shorter turn around time (4 days). Both services are free to Harvard affiliates.
  • Scan and Deliver: a service offered by many Harvard libraries and useful for obtaining PDFs of  articles and book chapters ( from items that are listed in the HOLLIS catalog.  Look for the "scan and deliver" link (next to call number and location information) and follow the prompts from there.  Scan and Deliver takes 1-4 days and is limited to 2 requests per day per patron. 
  • EndNote and Zotero: software to help you collect and organize references from online sources (or elsewhere), create a searchable personal database, find and cite these references while writing, and create bibliographies in your style of choice (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). Librarians here have created an excellent Research Management and Citation Tools at Harvard site which you can consult for further information, including a schedule of upcoming training sessions. 
  • Lean Library: a browser extension that provides quick and simple access to digital content purchased by Harvard Library. Also available is the Check Harvard Library bookmarklet, to see if Harvard has a subscription to content on a webpage, such as a journal article.