What does HOLLIS stand for?

HOLLIS, Harvard's online catalog, is an acronym for Harvard On-Line Library Information System. It also refers to Thomas Hollis (1659-1731) an important library benefactor who contributed books and scientific instruments to Harvard and endowed the Hollis Chair of Divinity and the Hollis Chair of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. Hollis’s family members also contributed books to the Harvard College Library.


The Harvard Online Library Information System (HOLLIS) went live on July 1, 1985 but was initially used only by staff for purchasing, journal check-in, and accounting. In September 1988, HOLLIS went public, as reported by The Crimson. While the online catalog has been called “HOLLIS” ever since (or “New HOLLIS,” “HOLLIS Classic,” “HOLLIS+” etc.), the systems it runs on have changed several times.


Initially, HOLLIS contained just 4 million of Harvard's then 11 million volumes. A subsequent five-year retrospective conversion of old catalog records was completed in early 1997, making HOLLIS much more comprehensive. (Of course, HOLLIS still doesn’t, and may never, contain everything in Harvard’s library collections.)


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


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