How do "Digital Reserves/3-Hour Digital Reserves" work?

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: 



Service Alert:
  • Ask a Librarian, including chat and email, will be suspended on Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24. Regular service hours resume on Saturday..
  • If If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during these times, please report it to Library Technology Services.


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Sunday 12noon-7pm

Chat is intended for brief inquiries from the Harvard community.


Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

These services are intended primarily for Harvard University faculty, staff and students. If you are not affiliated with Harvard, please use these services only to request information about the Library and its collections.