If there is no ONLINE ACCESS link in HOLLIS, does that mean the item isn’t available online?

If you don’t see an ONLINE ACCESS link, it could mean one of four things:

Our ONLINE ACCESS link is attached to a different HOLLIS record.

HOLLIS contains many duplicate records, especially under “Catalog & Articles,” so your first troubleshooting step is simply to look for another record for the same item. This is especially useful to know for books, because our ebook access is often listed on separate records from our print holdings.

We have online access, but HOLLIS isn’t aware of it.

HOLLIS connects to much but by no means all of the content that we have licensed access to via our Databases. Sometimes there is simply a lag between when we gain access and when the citation shows up in HOLLIS; sometimes this is because the available metadata is not compatible with HOLLIS. A librarian can help you determine if we have access via a database.

HOLLIS doesn’t have an ONLINE ACCESS link, but the item is freely available on the web.

There are many items in the public domain or still in copyright but available as Open Access: HOLLIS is able to link to many, but by no means all, of these items. It is always worth using HOLLIS’s Unpaywall link to check for open access, or searching Google, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive, as well as getting to know one of the many other strategies for finding books online. See our FAQ, How can I find out whether a book is available online?

We do not currently license online access, but we can obtain a PDF for you via Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan.

Never assume that we can’t get something for you; always ask

As a reminder: HOLLIS does not contain everything Harvard owns, and Harvard doesn’t own everything in HOLLIS, but we can get you almost anything.

Pro Tip: the Boston Public Library may have licensed access that Harvard doesn’t: Harvard affiliates are eligible for a BPL ecard. If you are out of state, consult your local public library to learn more about their online access options as well.

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

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



Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm



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.