How do I search HOLLIS for something with a title that’s just one word, or not very unique?

I'm trying to find a book that has one generic word for a title, like "History."  I’m seeing too many HOLLIS results to find what I want: what should I do?

It can be tricky to find the relevant HOLLIS record if your search terms are very common words. Here are some methods to try:

Add the author or subtitle to your search

When you search HOLLIS for History Lowell, Robert Lowell's 1973 book of poetry entitled History is one of the top results. When you search for the phrase “History: a novel,” Elsa Morante's novel History is a top result.

Use the Journal Search page

This limits your HOLLIS search results to newspapers, magazines, journals, and other periodicals. 

Find a unique identifier to add to your search

Use the web (Google, Amazon, etc.) to get more information about the title, such as full author name, subtitle, ISSN or ISBN. 

Note: an ISBN is useful but not always perfect. Remember that each ISBN corresponds to only one version (paperback second edition, hardback third edition, British edition, etc), and Harvard’s copy may be a different edition from the one for which you have an ISBN. Additionally, not all HOLLIS records include the ISBN.

Ask a librarian for help

We have lots more search tricks that might work.

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

Friday & Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: 12-7pm

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.