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John Harvard's Journal

HOLLIS Improved

September-October 2002

Choosing the relative peace of July, when the inevitable bugs could be dealt with calmly, the University Library released a greatly improved version of the Harvard Online Library Information System (HOLLIS). "The new system is a major advance for both library staff and the public," says Tracey Robinson, head of the Office for Information Systems in the University Library, who oversaw the overhaul. "The former system originated in 1985, and so the architecture was old and the functionality pretty limited. This is a much more powerful tool."

Visitors see at once that the new system is more user-friendly than the old, offering a point-and-click-based interface instead of requiring typed commands. The catalog has a new look, gives a choice of many refined and expanded search features, and lets patrons interact with the library on clerical matters.

One can limit a search, which can be a critical timesaver given the vast size of the collection. One can search an individual library, for instance, or search by publisher or date of publication, or search only among journals or e-resources. Foreign-language records can be displayed in the original script, instead of in transliterated Roman characters. One can return to previous searches and modify them.

Students, faculty members, and others actively engaged with the library can use the new HOLLIS, and their PINs, to interact with the system from home or office for such business as to remind themselves what books they've checked out; to renew books about to be due; to have books taken out by others recalled; or to see how much they've been billed in overdue fines (for HOLLIS is a large financial system along with everything else).

To explore HOLLIS, approach through the libraries' portal ( or directly, at