How to Use Your Harvard Key to Get Online Articles for Free

The library already pays for online article access. Use these tools to make sure you get it too.

When a website wants you to pay money before you can read something — “You have 0 free articles left this month” “Rent or buy article” “Already a subscriber? Sign in here”— it’s time to check Harvard Library.

The library has already paid for your access to millions of pages of online content, from the New Yorker to the Oxford English Dictionary to the journal Nature: Chemical Biology. All you have to do is to connect the site to your Harvard Key.

The library offers four different ways to quickly and easily check if you have access. Each one has features that you may find helpful at different times. Most people mix and match at least two. Find the one that’s right for you.


Google Scholar Library Links

  • Connect Google Scholar to Harvard to see “Try Harvard Library” links in your results, which take you to the best bet for Harvard Key access



Check Harvard Library Bookmark

  • Works on any browser, including your phone
  • Reloads the page you’re on via Harvard Key
  • You’re in control: click the bookmark when you want to check for access



Lean Library

  • Works in Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari and Opera
  • Checks every website you visit and reloads via Harvard Key automatically
  • No action required: Lean Library is always working in the background
  • May sign you out of a personal subscriber account


Not sure where to start? Give Google Scholar and the Bookmark a shot. If you decide you want a more automated experience or additional features, add Lean Library.

And if one of the tools fails, don’t give up! Try searching in HOLLIS, and if that doesn’t work, Ask a Librarian for help finding a what you need. We may have access via a different source. If not, we have many ways to get you a copy of something you need.

Odile Harter is a research and pedagogy librarian. Her subject area is literature, and she's a liaison librarian for the departments of English, Comp Lit, and Romance Languages.