Access to Special Collections

Special Collections Request System

Harvard College Library special collections are open to all adult researchers regardless of academic affiliation.

The Special Collections Request system allows Houghton Library, Harvard Map Collection, Harvard-Yenching Library, Fine Arts Library, Loeb Music Library and Tozzer Library patrons to register and place requests for materials online.

Upon registering, an individual account is created. With that account a patron can:

  • submit requests through a form or submit requests via links in the catalog record
  • submit requests in advance of a visit to a library or while at the library
  • track the status of each request
  • access detailed information about past requests

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All patrons, regardless of affiliation, are required to register before requesting special collections materials via a Special Collections Request account.

Patrons who are not currently affiliated with Harvard University or who do not hold a Special Borrower Card will need to visit the Library Privileges Office at Widener Library (Hours, Directions) and present a government-issued, photo ID with date of birth to obtain a Harvard College Library Special Collections Card.

Patrons with a Harvard ID or an HCL Special Borrower Card do not need to obtain an HCL Special Collections Card.

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Getting Started

Setting up an Account

Before you can make any requests, you will need to set up your account online. To set up your account, go to You will need to click on the Login link corresponding with your Harvard affiliation status. If you are affiliated with the University, click on the link of the left side of the screen. If you are not affiliated with Harvard, click on the link on the right side of the screen.

You will be taken to a registration form which you must fill out to create your account. When you have finished, click the Submit Information button and the registration process will be complete.

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Making Requests

You can make a request for special collections 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 directly from HOLLIS+ or HOLLIS Classic. Look for the Request Item link in the catalog record.

When you click on the link to make a request, you will need to log into your account. Once you have logged in, a request form will automatically be filled out for you. Fill in any additional information relevant to your request.

To select date of visit click in field on right, select date from calendar and click Submit Request button.

You can also place a request by manually filling out a request form in your account. Click on the New Requests and then Request links in the main menu of your account.

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Tracking Requests

You can track requests that you have submitted by clicking on the Outstanding Requests links in the main menu of your account.

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