Borrowing Privileges

Patrons with a valid Harvard ID or an HKS Alumni Borrowing Card may borrow books from the HKS Library's circulating collection. Alumni Borrowing Cards are only available to HKS alumni who may obtain applications at our Circulation Desk. See below for further information about alumni privileges and the HKS Library and other Harvard libraries.


Borrowing Policies


  Regular Materials (Books, Working Papers, CDROMS) DVDs
 (limit 2)
Reserve Materials
 (limit 2)
Recalled Items*
Students and Special Borrowers 28 days 7 days 3 hours, or overnight if within 3 hours of closing guaranteed minimum 14 day loan
Faculty and Staff semester loan 7 days 3 hours, or overnight if within 3 hours of closing guaranteed minimum 14 day loan
Overdue Fines $2.00 the first day and then $.50/day $.50/day $1/hour $2/day
Replacement Fee $75/item $75/item $75/item $75/item


* If you are planning to travel, please note that all items are subject to recall at any time.



Required books are available at the circulation desk. Reserve items may be borrowed for 3 hours. Items are available on a first come, first served basis: there are no waitlists.

Reserves may be borrowed overnight beginning 3 hours before the circulation desk closes. The material will be due ½ hour after the next opening.

The fine for overdue reserves is $1/hour. Items must be returned to the HKS library.

Reserves can only be renewed in person, with the material in hand. Renewal will be restricted when the item is in high demand.



Items from the general collection may be renewed up to five times. Renew electronically from the "My Account/Renew" page in the HOLLIS+ Catalog,  in person, or by phone (617) 495-1300. Reserve materials may be renewed only in person.



If another library patron requests an item that you have borrowed, the Library will notify you that the book must be returned before its original due date. Books are due within seven days of recall notice. There is a guaranteed 14-day loan period prior to recall.


Research Assistant Card

Faculty members may request up to three library research assistant cards on their library account. Faculty members are responsible for all activity and fines on their accounts. Research assistants are to apply at the Widener Library Privileges Office with a completed application form and faculty member's signature.


Access for Non-Harvard Users

Researchers without a Harvard affiliation may apply for access by filling out this form and contacting our Research Staff at


Alumni Borrowing Privileges

Borrowing privileges for HKS Alumni/ae at the HKS Library


  • Documentation with a valid photo ID card.
  • Staff will verify alumna/us status.
  • No outstanding Harvard library fines.

HKS Alumni may request, free of charge, a Special Borrowers card which allows them to borrow materials from the HKS collection. The card is good for one year from the date of issue and is renewable once all fines are paid. Following instructions on the back of the Special Borrowers card, books (28 day loan) and DVDs (3 day loan) can be renewed up to 5 times by email or phone. Alumni are subject to fines for overdue materials (.50 per day) and recalled materials ($2 per day).


Borrowing privileges for HKS Alumni/ae at Other Harvard Libraries

Access to other Harvard libraries may be purchased at the Widener Library Privileges Office. Necessary Documentation: A valid photo ID card. Privileges staff will verify alumna/us status.

Privileges Available: Free of charge, Harvard Alumni/ae are entitled to:

  • HCL Stacks Access Card good for 6 days of access in each 12-month period (not necessarily consecutive).
  • 6 items may be checked out from Widener Library in each 12-month period.
  • A Visiting Researcher Card valid for a 3 month period from the date of issue.

A HCL Special Borrowers Card may be purchased according to the fees below.

  • 1 Year: $200
  • 6 months: $125
  • 3 months: $75
  • For Alumni/ae 65 years and older the fee is $50/year

Privileges for Domestic Partners and Spouses of Harvard ID Holders

Domestic partners and spouses of current Harvard University ID card holders (students, faculty and benefits eligible staff) may apply for library privileges at the Widener Library Privileges Office.

Necessary Documentation

  • A photo ID
  • A photocopy of the Harvard affiliate's ID card
  • $5
  • If the domestic partner/spouse and Harvard staff person have different last names, proof of marriage or shared residence (i.e. a marriage certificate, certificate of domestic partnership, lease with both names, government issued ID with same address as the staff person, etc.)

Privileges Available

Domestic partners of benefits eligible staff and students may obtain a HCL Special Borrowers Card valid for up to 1 year from the date of issue.