What does "3-Hour Digital Reserves" mean?

You may see this option for an item that is on reserve for a course. The item is available for onscreen reading only (no downloads). Once someone accesses the item, it becomes unavailable to others for 3 hours.

In the future we hope to add enhancements to the checkout process that better facilitate sharing of high-demand items. for example, a queue that allows you to be notified when the book becomes available.

How to access 3-hour digital reserves

From Canvas: if an item is available via 3-Hour Digital Reserves, the "ONLINE ACCESS" link in your course's Library Reserves list will take you directly to an online book viewer (if the item is available), or to a page saying that the item is in use (if it's not available).


From HOLLIS: if an item is available via 3-Hour Digital Reserves, the "ONLINE ACCESS" link in HOLLIS will take you to the "Online Access" section inside the HOLLIS record.

  • You need to be signed in to HOLLIS in order to see if the book is available for you to view and to access it. (We recommend logging in to HOLLIS before searching.)
  • If you are signed in to HOLLIS and the hyperlink to the digital object is blue/active, the book is not in use. If the link is grey/inactive, the book is in use. 

Example of an Available Digital Reserves Item:


You may also see an intermediary login page. Choose the HarvardKey option to proceed: 



About the digital reserves program

Digital Reserves is a pilot program for fall 2020 that allows the library to legally provide digital access to books not otherwise available to us electronically. It is similar in many ways to the Emergency Full Text Access provided via HathiTrust: in both cases, copyright and licensing restrictions require that the number of simultaneous users as well as the duration of access be limited, and that the library prohibit access to our print copies of the book in order to provide the online access. For more details on the program, see HL Digital Reserves Program, Frequently Asked Questions (Harvard login).

Service Alert:

In observance of Independence Day, there will be no library services Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 5, 2021. There may be a slight delay in our responses to inquiries received over the long weekend. If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey, please report it to Library Technology Services.



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Saturday 9am-5pm

Sunday 12noon-7pm

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If you are not affiliated with Harvard, please do not use this form. For questions about library materials, send us an email to connect with someone who can help.