In general. . .

  • Borrowing privileges within the Harvard College Library—Cabot, Fine Arts, Fung, Government Documents/Microforms, Harvard Map Collection, Harvard-Yenching, Houghton, Lamont, Loeb Music, Tozzer, and Widener—are extended to individuals who hold either a current Harvard ID or an HCL Special Borrower Card. (Note: In Lamont Library the Special Borrower Card must be embossed with a "C" or "U".) ID cards are not transferable.
  • There is no limit to the number of items a user may borrow.
  • All material is subject to Recall.
  • Login is required to access many online library resources. To learn more, please visit
  • All library users are subject to the terms of the HCL Patron Agreement, which is posted in student handbooks, on this site, and available in hard copy at each HCL library.

Loan Periods

This chart indicates loan periods for general library materials.

Category Cabot Science Library Fine Arts Library Harvard-Yenching Library Lamont Library Loeb Music Library Tozzer Library Widener Library
Undergraduates term term term term term term term
G1 Graduate term term term term term term term
G2 Graduate term term term term term term term
G3 Graduate term term term term term term term
G4 Graduate term term term term term term term
HCL Special Borrower 28 28 28 28 28 28 28
Faculty term term term term term term term
Faculty Research Assistant term term term term term term term
Officer term term term term term term term
Staff 28 term term term term term term
Extension School Program term term term term term term term

Loan periods for periodicals, reserves, loaner laptops, and audio-visual media vary, so inquire at the lending library.

Some libraries have Non-Circulating Collections.

In Loeb Music Library, audio-visual materials are non-circulating; however, Harvard Music Department faculty and teaching fellows may borrow these materials for two weeks for class preparation.

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  • Non-receipt of overdue notices does not exempt users from overdue fines. Please check your HOLLIS account regularly.
  • Faculty are responsible for any fines and/or lost books charged on their behalf by any of their research assistants.
  • The "Your Account" section of HOLLIS permits users to view their fines BEFORE they are transferred to term bill or accounts receivable. Please note that as soon as fines are transferred, they will no longer appear in the "Your Account" section; however, the fine is still due.
  • If a bill is received from the Accounts Receivable or Term Bill offices, all payments must be made directly to those offices and can no longer be made at the respective libraries. Please be certain the Accounts Receivable office and Term Bill offices have your correct address on file.
  • Failure to pay overdue fines and/or replacement fees may result in the blocking of library privileges.
  • Widener and Lamont fines appearing in the “My Account” section of HOLLIS, may be paid in person at the Widener Billing Office, Room 135, using MasterCard, Visa or Crimson Cash.
  • For other HCL libraries, Please check with the respective library regarding acceptable methods of payment.
  • Fines that are not paid in person are automatically transferred to the user's term bill or processed through accounts receivable at which point the fines will no longer appear in the “Your Account” section of HOLLIS.

The following fines apply to:

  • Faculty, Officers, and Staff
  • All Students in all libraries
  • HCL Special Borrowers in all libraries
Overdue Recalled book or item $3 per day
Overdue Reserve book or item $0.02 per minute
Unreturned book or item Replacement cost plus applicable overdue fines
Loaner laptop Up to $14.40 per day

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Materials can be renewed either in person at the lending library or online, up to five times, via "Your Account" in the HOLLIS catalog. After the fifth renewal, materials must be brought to the library to be checked out. Renewals are not accepted via telephone or fax.

Please note that if a borrower brings a book renewed online back into the lending library, it must be re-stamped at the Circulation Desk before it can leave the building. This quick procedure ensures that the book reflects the official due date recorded in the computer database. It also indicates to the doorchecker at the guard desk that the book is indeed checked out.

All library users are responsible for returning or renewing items charged to them on time.

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Material that is on loan to one library user may be recalled by another. Any item currently checked out can be recalled. (Once the item has been recalled, the date stamped on the checkout slip is no longer valid.)

A recall notice will come via mail or e-mail. Borrowers are guaranteed 10 days use with each charged item that is recalled, unless it is needed for reserves use. If the guaranteed use period has elapsed, the recalled item is due seven days after the date the recall is placed.

All borrowers, regardless of category, who do not respond promptly to recalls will be fined (see Fines) and may be subject to suspension of library borrowing privileges.

Any user with a valid Harvard ID or HCL Special Borrower Card can place a recall request. Recalls are placed through a HOLLIS catalog record by choosing Full View/Availability/Request and following the prompts.

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Obtaining Materials from the Harvard Depository

Some library materials are stored at an off-site facility called the Harvard Depository (HD). This will be indicated in the availability section of the HOLLIS catalog record. Materials can be retrieved from the Harvard Depository directly through HOLLIS by following the prompts.

  1. Find a record in HOLLIS and choose format Full View
  2. Click on the Availability link
  3. Click on the Request link, (if there is no request button, follow the directions in the Item Status column)
  4. Click on Send Request to complete your request

Materials requested from HD will be available for pick-up at the owning library by 3 p.m. the next business day. Login is required to access many online library resources. To learn more, please visit

Authorized visitors with Widener Library Reading Room Privileges may request Widener HD items at the Phillips Reading Room Desk.

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Books can be returned in person or mailed (priority, insured) to the attention of Book Return at the lending library. See the HCL Libraries page for addresses.

Please go to the Billing Office in Widener Library or the library Circulation Desk to clear overdue books or to report lost materials.

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Tracing Library Materials

If a library item appears in the HOLLIS record as not checked out, but cannot be found in the stacks, notify the staff at the Circulation Desk and they will initiate a trace to try to locate the item.

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Borrowing without a Harvard ID

Individuals without a Harvard ID—alumni/ae, faculty members at other institutions, Ph.D. candidates at other institutions, and other researchers not affiliated with Harvard University—may be eligible for one or more of the following types of borrowing privileges: Reading Room Privileges Card, HCL Special Borrower Card, HCL Stacks Access Card. Privileges are obtained through the Library Privileges Office. Fees may apply.

Library Privileges Office
Widener Library
Room 130
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

The hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Tuesday & Thursday: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm and Saturday: Noon – 5:00 pm. Holiday and intersession hours vary, so please call or check the hours before visiting during those times.

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Using Non-Circulating Collections

Fung Library

The collections of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Documentation Center on Contemporary Japan, and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies are housed in the Fung Library and do not circulate.

Harvard Film Archive

The films in the Harvard Film Archive collections do not circulate for private use by individuals; however, films are available for Harvard classroom screenings and loans to other film archives and institutions.

Students, filmmakers, artists, and researchers may use the collections on-site at the Harvard Film Archive.

Government Documents/Microforms

Government Document/Microforms materials do not circulate from the building. All materials must be used within Research Services on Level B of Lamont.

Some titles are stored off-site in the Harvard Depository. Harvard affiliates may request these materials via the HOLLIS catalog by clicking on "request" when availability information is displayed. Material requested from the Depository will be delivered to the library by 3:30 pm the following business day and can be picked up at the Circulation Desk.

Because Harvard College Library is a U.S. federal, Canadian and U.N. depository, library titles from the Harvard Depository may also be requested by the public. Please call 617-495-2106 to make arrangements for the documents to be available.  Members of the public will need a Government Documents Access Card to enter Lamont Library and use the government documents collection. Government Documents Access Cards can be obtained by showing a picture ID at the Library Privileges Office.

Non-Harvard researchers who are traveling a long distance or have time constraints are strongly encouraged to e-mail at least one month in advance of arrival to ensure the titles needed will be available.

Harvard Map Collection

The Harvard Map Collection is a reference collection consisting of non-circulating materials; however, the wall map collection circulates for classroom instruction. Harvard faculty and teaching fellows are encouraged to contact the Map Collection if they wish to have specific cartographic materials placed on hold for their classes. Advance notice is appreciated. Contact the Map Collection by phone at 617-495-2417, by fax at 617-496-0440, or via e-mail.

Houghton Library (including Harvard Theatre Collection)

Houghton Library collections do not circulate. All materials are used in the reading rooms.

Houghton material housed at the Harvard Depository is called for and viewed in the Houghton Reading Room. Readers are advised that retrieval of material from the Harvard Depository usually takes one day and are encouraged to submit their requests for materials from the depository location online in their Special Collections Request Accounts in advance of their visits.

Houghton Library does lend materials for exhibitions. For more information, please see Guidelines for Exhibition Loan Requests.

Requesting Restricted Materials in the Reading Room - plan ahead!

The majority of our materials can be seen without special arrangement; however, items designated as "Restricted" in the catalog require permission for access. Usually an item is restricted because it is very fragile or in a special format that requires staff assistance for its use. In most cases we offer readers the use of a surrogate (microfilm, facsimile, or digital copy) of the restricted item with the goal of prolonging the life of the original. Occasionally a donor or the family of an author whose papers we hold has requested that an item be restricted because of privacy concerns. In both cases, you must apply for permission from Houghton staff to view restricted material.

To request permission to access restricted materials, add a note to your request in the Special Collections Request account. Please indicate the specific reasons that you would like access to the restricted materials and include a prospective scheduled date for your visit.

Note:  Readers who request to see/copy restricted materials will receive a reply to their request as soon as possible, generally within two business days.

Viewing Restricted Digital Images

Although the majority of our digital images are in the public domain, there are a few collections that may be restricted to the Harvard community for reasons of copyright or donor request (all restricted images prompt the user for a Harvard ID). If you don’t have a Harvard ID, and would like to request copies of restricted images, please fill out the Photoduplication Request Form.  If you would like temporary online access to restricted images, please contact where the appropriate curator can review your request.

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