Borrowing Materials

Harvard's 70+ libraries primarily serve the University's current faculty, students and researchers who hold valid Harvard IDs. Policies on admittance, hours, and services vary by library. For more information on a specific Harvard library, please visit the individual library page.

Borrowing and Renewing Materials

To borrow items from the Harvard Library, take them with your ID to the appropriate circulation desk, and the staff will check them out to you. A growing number of libraries have self-checkout kiosks where you can checkout books as long as you have your ID card.  As long as no other library patron needs them, you can renew books five times.

  • Harvard faculty, students, and staff receive semester loan periods on regular loan items.
  • Harvard Library Special Borrowers receive 28-day loan periods on regular loan items.
  • Login to My Accounts with your HarvardKey.
  • For more information, please see Ask a Librarian.


​Eligibility: Harvard faculty, students, and staff are eligible for borrowing privileges at MIT Libraries.

The MIT Libraries Borrower card provides:

  • Borrowing privileges at the Barker Engineering Library, Dewey Management & Social Sciences Library, Hayden Science and Humanities Library, Lewis Music Library, and Rotch Architecture and Planning Library.
  • On-site access at the Institute Archives/Special Collections and Library Storage Annex (by appointment).

Where to go: The service desks at MIT's Barker, Dewey, Hayden, or Rotch Libraries.

What to bring: HUID, Government issued photo ID.

Privileges details: 

  • Log in to Borrow Direct with your HarvardKey Credentials to verify eligibility. 
  • Faculty and staff cards are issued through August 31. Student cards are issued through May 31.
  • Material can be borrowed for 60 days plus three renewals.

Returning Materials

You are welcome to return most material to any Harvard Library; however, reserves and interlibrary loan items should be returned directly to the library from which they were borrowed.

Recalling Library Materials

You can recall an item, which creates a request requiring the current borrower to return the item within seven days. To initiate a recall, click on the “Request Item” link through the item record in HOLLIS.

All regular loan materials are subject to recall at any time. Recall notifications are sent to your email address on record.

Eligible borrowers also may request the item through Borrow Direct, a service with an expected delivery time of approximately four business days.

Fines and Fees

Replacement fees for lost or long overdue materials vary depending on the item and library. Fines for late return of reserve items and other short term loans vary between libraries - please check with the individual library for precise information.

For questions and additional information, please contact the Harvard Library Billing Office at 617-496-3015 or

Types of Fines and Fees

Standard Overdue Fines:

  • Discontinued as of April 1, 2017.

Overdue Fines for Recalled Materials:

  • $3.00 per day, maximum of $45 per recalled item.

Fines for Reserve Materials and Other Short Term Loans:

  • Varies by library location. Please contact individual libraries for additional information.

Replacement Fee for Lost or Long Overdue Materials:

  • Standard Fees are $100 replacement cost + $10 processing fee, with exceptions listed below:
  • $65 Replacement Fee: Gutman Education Library
  • $75 Replacement Fee: Divinity School Library, Kennedy School Library
  • $85 Replacement Fee: Law School Library
  • $120 replacement Fee: Countway Medical Library (also $35 processing fee).
  • Item Cost Replacement Fee: MCZ Library (also $35 processing fee).