Access to Special Collections
Frequently Asked Questions
- I have a Harvard ID. Do I need to register to use special collections materials?
- I have a Harvard College Library Special Borrower Card. Do I need to register to use special collections materials?
- I am not affiliated with Harvard. How can I access special collections materials?
- I have already registered at Houghton. Why do I need to register again?
How do I place a request?
There are two ways to place a request: through request links in HOLLIS and directly through a form in your account.
To place a request for special collections materials through the Harvard library catalogs, HOLLIS and HOLLIS Classic, you can click on the Request Item link in the catalog record. You will then be asked to login to your request account. When you have logged in, the request form will be filled out for you. You must click the Submit button to complete your request.
You may also fill out the request form yourself. You can access it by clicking on the Request link from your account main menu.
What materials can I request through my account?
Through your account, you may request materials from Houghton Library, the Harvard Theatre Collection, the Harvard Map Collection, Harvard-Yenching Library, the Fine Arts Library, Loeb Music Library, and Tozzer Library. If you have a question about whether you can request particular materials you are interested in, you should contact the library directly.
How do I submit requests for materials from a multi-piece collection?
You can submit requests for materials from a multi-piece collection through the regular request form. Make sure to specify which parts of the collection you are requesting. If you are requesting non-consecutively numbered materials (whether boxes, folders, or items), you should submit a separate request for each item or consecutive range of items.
Is there a limit on the number of requests I can make?
You may only have 15 outstanding requests at a time. If you need to request more than 15 items, you should contact the library directly.
Will materials be waiting for me when I arrive?
In general, materials that are stored on-site will not be paged until you arrive at the library. Materials stored at the Harvard Depository and from certain other collections may be paged in advance of your visit. To help us fill your requests in a timely manner, please indicate the date you would like to use the materials in the When Needed field on the request form.
Can I re-submit an old request to see the same materials again?
To re-submit a completed request, select the appropriate request from your request history and click on the Clone link. You can then change information about the request if appropriate and submit it again.
How do I make a request for photocopies or digital images?
At this time, you cannot make requests for photocopies or digital images directly through your account. To make such a request, please contact the library directly.
How can I access information about my requests?
Through the main menu, you can access information about requests that have not been processed, as well as requests that are in process or have been completed. The main menu contains the following request options: New Requests - Under the New Requests heading, click on Request to create a new request.
Past Requests - Under the Past Requests heading, click on Saved Requests to view and submit requests you have kept in review. Click on Outstanding Requests to view all the requests you have sumbitted that are not finished. Click on Completed Requests to view all finished requests. Click on Cancelled Requests to view requests that have been cancelled by you or library staff. Click on All Requests to view all the requests you have submitted or saved.
Search Requests - Click on the Search Requests heading to conduct a keyword search of either all your requests or only active requests.
Events/Classes - Click on the Events/Classes heading to access lists of requests for events grouped by event.
How can I submit requests for a class or exhibit that I am planning with a library?
If you are planning an event with library staff, you can ask to be able to place requests for that event through your online account. Once staff have set up the event for you, you can place requests for the event in the same way as you place other requests and simply select the event from the Request For field on the materials request form.
Can I have my research assistant place requests for me?
If you would like for another person to be able to place requests on your behalf, you can ask library staff to make them a proxy for your account. Your proxy researcher must also register for an account and, if applicable, obtain a Special Collections Card at the Library Privileges Office, in order to access materials on your behalf.
What if I forget my password?
In the event that you forget your password, please click on the Forgot Password link on the logon page to reset it. For security reasons, library staff do not have access to your password and cannot tell you what it is.
How long is my request information kept?
We may retain information we collect from you in connection with your use of a Harvard College Library Special Collections Request Account indefinitely.
What does "Subscribe to Alerts Feed" mean?
Subscribing to the alerts feeds allows you to get alerts from HCL special collections libraries sent to your RSS reader.
How long is my account active?
Your account is active indefinitely. However, if it has been more than 365 days since you registered or last updated your account information, you will be asked to update your contact and affiliation information the next time you login. In addition, if your Harvard College Library Special Borrower or Special Collections Card has expired, you will need to go the Library Privileges Office in Widener to obtain a new card.