How do I search HOLLIS Databases?


HOLLIS Databases is a tool for identifying specialized search engines and large collections of digital materials. It is a curated subset of HOLLIS records, selected by Harvard librarians.

Note: HOLLIS’s main search page also includes “databases” as a resource type, but the results are less curated. Searching for databases on Library Catalog or Catalog & Articles will typically give more results, but they will be less focused.


HOLLIS Databases searches descriptions (not the contents) of the major electronic resources licensed by Harvard Library.

Start with broad subjects, regions, time periods, or format types. Fewer search words will generally get you better results. You can use the same search operators as for HOLLIS. Examples:

Pro tip: use the “content type” filter to limit your results by the types of materials contained in the database.

To search by database vendor, you can use Advanced Search or just type the vendor’s name into the basic search box.


HOLLIS Databases uses a custom subject list designed for databases, in addition to the Library of Congress subject headings that you find throughout HOLLIS. These custom subjects are listed under “Subject Category.” You can find the full list under "BEST DATABASES FOR:" on the landing page.

Best bets (top 10): a “best bet” star means that the database is one of our top 10 recommendations for that subject. The main HOLLIS search also displays these “best bet” stars.

"We suggest" (top 3): select a subject from the list on the landing page, and our top three recommendations will display under “we suggest” at the top of the results list.

Additional technical documentation is available on our staff wiki

Related FAQDoes HOLLIS search inside Harvard Library databases?

Have another HOLLIS question? Our HOLLIS User Guide provides an overview of HOLLIS's features and functions.

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