There are over 70 libraries at Harvard University with extensive collections in numerous subject areas. Each library has its own set of policies and procedures and should be consulted for specific questions and for assistance with research. While some Harvard library buildings are open to the public, most require a valid Harvard ID for admittance. Libraries are listed along with their contact information, hours and policies here.
The following is a brief guide to finding materials at Harvard. The sheer size and number of the Harvard libraries and collections sometimes make it challenging to locate specific items. If you don’t find what you need, please ask a reference librarian.
To find books at any of the Harvard libraries, search the HOLLIS (Harvard Online Library Information System) Catalog by author, title, keyword, subject, and more. The HOLLIS Catalogs are databases containing records for millions of books, journals, manuscripts, government documents, maps, microforms, music scores, sound recordings, visual materials, dissertations, and data files in libraries at Harvard. Two search interfaces are available, HOLLIS and HOLLIS Classic.
Some materials are located at the Harvard Depository, a large, off-campus storage facility. Many of these items can be requested online through the HOLLIS Catalogs; other items will need to be requested through the library that owns the item.
Finding Articles in Journals and Newspapers
To find journal articles by topic, author or keyword, the best option is to select and search e-resources from the E-Research @ Harvard Libraries web site. Use Find E-Resources to search or browse by resource name, keyword or subject. You may also use Quick Search to find articles and other information by searching in librarian-created sets of e-resources in broad subject areas. Once you locate specific article citations, look for a Harvard Find It button near the citation. Click on this button to find out if full text is available or to link to the journal holdings in the HOLLIS Catalogs. If there is no Harvard button in the database, copy the citation and search for the journal title in Find E-Journals or in the HOLLIS Catalogs.
If you have an article citation in hand and would like to see if Harvard has access to that journal in print or online, you can also use Find It's Citation Linker.
Locating Journals and Newspapers
Begin your search to locate individual journals and newspapers by entering their titles in the Journals section of the HOLLIS Catalog. Harvard also provides access to many electronic versions of journals and newspapers through the Find E-Journals section of the E-Research @ Harvard Libraries web site or Find It's Citation Linker. See below for more specific information on electronic journals and newspapers.
There are also listings of Newspaper Collections on Microform held in the Harvard Libraries which include many older publications and date runs.
Electronic Journals and Databases
The E-Research @ Harvard Libraries web site provides access to a wide variety of web-based information sources, including research databases and collections, journal indexes, the full text of many scholarly journals and newspapers, web guides, and much more. You must use a library workstation or be a member of the Harvard community with an active Harvard ID and PIN to access most licensed resources.
Many additional online materials (e-books, CD-ROMs, etc.) can also be located through the Digital Resources section of the HOLLIS Catalog, so look in both places to ensure a complete search.
To find out whether or not you have access to a specific electronic journal or newspaper at Harvard, use Citation Linker to search by the title or ISSN of the journal.
Archives and Specialized Materials
Harvard has several catalogs which cover specialized types of materials. These include:
- VIA (Visual Information Access) - a union catalog of visual resources and images at Harvard.
- OASIS (Online Archival Search Information System) - electronic access to information about manuscript and archival collections at Harvard.
- HGL (Harvard Geospatial Library) - access to geospatial materials held by Harvard's libraries.
Please note that although these catalogs are growing, they currently represent only some of the specialized materials held at Harvard; consult the HOLLIS or HOLLIS Classic, or contact the reference staff of a Harvard special collection for more information on holdings.
It is also possible to use the Harvard Lib Catalogs Quick Search set to simultaneously search for materials in all of these catalogs, including both HOLLIS and the Baker Library catalog.
Archival and manuscript collections are listed at the Harvard Libraries website.
To check out a book or other material, go to the library in which the item is located. Borrowing policies and procedures vary by library and by faculty affiliation, but are generally limited to current members of the Harvard community with a Harvard ID or those with a Special Borrowers card. Consult individual library listings for borrowing and access policies.
Renewals and Recalls
Members of the Harvard community with a valid Harvard ID and PIN may renew materials online by using the Your Account function of the HOLLIS Catalog. Materials may also be recalled online if another user has them checked out. Again, renewal and recall policies and procedures vary by library.
To find readings held on reserve for a Harvard course, use the HOLLIS Catalog and click on "Reserves" in the top menu for the most complete listing. The Reserves section includes items that the Full Catalog does not, such as reprints and materials on loan from instructors. Note that some libraries do not use the HOLLIS Catalog for reserves and that you may need to visit these libraries for information about course readings.
Get It (Borrow Direct, Interlibrary Loan, Scan & Deliver)
If the material you need is either unavailable or currently charged out, the Harvard Library will help you Get It.
Harvard University students, faculty, and staff with library borrowing privileges and active e-mail accounts may use Borrow Direct to request books directly from the libraries of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale.
If the book you need is not available through Borrow Direct, or if you need an article not available at Harvard, current members of the Harvard community may use Interlibrary Loan.
If you are not a member of the Harvard community and wish to obtain Harvard material through Interlibrary Loan, consult the ILL librarian at your local library or institution.
Information for Alumni and Alumnae
Alumni and alumnae of Harvard and Radcliffe and of the University’s graduate and professional schools generally can obtain specific library privileges. The nature of these privileges will vary according to your degree or affiliation and according to the library that you wish to use. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to begin with the library of the Harvard faculty from which you earned your degree.
Information for Visitors
The primary purpose of Harvard’s libraries is to serve the University’s current community of faculty, researchers and students. Library access and use policies for visitors vary by library. Check the access information section under the individual library listing.
You must use a Harvard library workstation or be a member of the Harvard community with an active Harvard ID and PIN to access most licensed resources available on the E-Research @ Harvard Libraries web site. The HOLLIS Catalog is available to all.
FAQ for Visitors