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Access & Privileges

Privileges and Services you are entitled to vary depending on your affiliation.  If you are a Harvard ID holder at HMS, HSPH, or HSDM you have full privileges including borrowing books, using electronic resources remotely, and requesting items through Harvard Direct, Borrow Direct, and Interlibrary Loan. Other users should refer to our list of affiliated groups to determine eligibility for privileges and services.

Borrow Direct:

Borrow Direct enables patrons to borrow books from a network of libraries which includes Brown, University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, and Johns Hopkins.


Borrowers may check out and renew circulating library items. Journals, reference materials and government documents do not circulate. 

The following policies apply to borrowed materials:

  • Books circulate for 28 days and may be renewed up to 5 times 
  • Fines for overdue regular (28-day) loan materials accumulate at $0.50 per day per book
  • Fines for overdue reserve materials accumulate at $1.00 per hour per book
  • Recall fines accumulate at the rate of $2.00/day from the adjusted due date. All circulating materials are subject to recall which shortens the original due date. Minimum borrowing period is 14 days. 
  • JOURNALS and PRE-1920 materials do not circulate

The Library is not responsible for non-receipt of recall and other library notices. To update e-mail or other personal information, contact the following:

  • Students should contact the registrar’s office for the applicable school:
    • HMS (617) 432-4702
    • HSDM (617) 432-1447
    • HSPH (617) 432-4702

HMS/HSDM faculty and staff can update information via eCommons, by calling (617) 432-2035 or sending an email.      

HSPH faculty should contact Academic Affairs (617) 432-4702, HSPH staff should contact HR at (617) 432-1046.

Countway Special Borrowers should contact the Circulation Department at (617) 432-2136. 

Center for the History of Medicine:

The Center for the History of Medicine provides reference, access and reproduction services for the Rare Books and Special Collections of the Countway and the Archives of the Harvard Medical School, School of Dental Medicine and the School of Public Health. The Center’s resources also include a print and photograph collection, works of fine art, and medical artifacts, and the collections of the Warren Anatomical Museum. Phone: (617) 432-2170.


Classes at the Countway Library include instruction in information retrieval skills, personal information management (Endnote), digital imaging and presentation skills, and records management. Services take the form of customized workshops and training sessions conducted in the library, offices, and departments. Specialized classes are available by request for groups of individuals. Classes are provided by the Reference Department, Records Management, and Research Imaging.

Copying, Scanning, and Printing:

Copying: Countway maintains self-service photocopiers in the Russell Reading Room, and on L1 and L2. Photocopiers use Crimson Cash only (, and copies cost 10¢ per page.

Scanning: There are two scanners in Countway, one is on L2 and the other is behind the circulation desk on the 1st floor.

Printing: There are printers throughout Countway Library. Black and white printers are available in the Russell Reading Room, 2nd floor, 3rd floor, and on L1 and L2. Color printing is available on the 2nd floor.

Harvard Direct:

Harvard Direct enables eligible patrons to request books from participating Harvard Libraries and have them delivered to any Harvard Library that has a circulating collection.

Interlibrary Loan:

To obtain materials not available at the Harvard, use our Interlibrary Loan/Borrowing service. This service is provided to HMS, HSPH and HSDM, and their affiliates (research assistants) and to BML Fellows (Boston Medical Library). 

More information about ILL can be found on our Interlibrary Loan page. Questions should be directed to 617-495-2972; Monday-Friday, 9-5.

Those who are not eligible for ILL should consult their hospital or primary institution libraries, or their local public library.

Massachusetts Medical Society members without Harvard IDs should consult this page here

MIT Borrowing Privileges:

HMS, HSDM, and HSPH faculty, staff, and students may apply for borrowing privileges directly at MIT's Hayden Library. You will receive Borrow Direct+ privileges, and have access to borrowing any items that are available through our Borrow Direct agreement.

Physical Access To Library Resoures:

Access to print collections: Includes access to books, journals, reference materials, and the reserve collection.

Access to electronic resources: Access to electronic resources is available to all users physically located within the Countway building.

Study space: Countway has ample study space throughout the building, as well as a user lounge on Lower Level 2 equipped with vending machines.

Access to the Center for the History of Medicine:The Center for the History of Medicine provides reference, access and reproduction services for the Rare Books and Special Collections of Countway and the Archives of the Harvard Medical School, School of Dental Medicine and the School of Public Health. The Center’s resources also include a print and photograph collection, works of fine art, and medical artifacts, and the collections of the Warren Anatomical Museum. Phone: (617) 432-2170.

Food and Drink Policy:

  • Beverages must be in spill-proof containers
  • Discreet snacks are allowed in general study areas (e.g., peanuts, carrots, or a candy bar)
  • The Visitor’s Lounge on Level L2 is used for food that is noisy, messy, or aromatic (e.g., sandwiches, pizza, salads, or soup)
  • Food or beverages are NOT allowed in the Computer Teaching Room (LL025) or in the Center for the History of Medicine
  • If your food is disturbing to other users, you may be asked to refrain from eating or leave the library
  • Food debris attracts pests, please take your waste with you when you leave the library

Records Managment:

The Records Management (RM) program advises and educates HMS/HSDM/HSPH faculty and staff in the management of recorded information in all formats to ensure timely access to important information resources, compliance with recordkeeping laws, regulations, policies, and best practices, and preservation of the historical record of HMS, HSDM and HSPH. Core services include developing recordkeeping policies and procedures, education and training, outreach to HMS/HSDM/HSPH and affiliates, office and individual consultations, appraisal of records, coordinating the transfer of records to the Harvard Depository for storage and their subsequent management, and transferring permanent records to the Archives. 

Reference Walk-in Services:

The Countway Reference staff provides assistance in using Harvard’s electronic and print resources and in locating primary research data.

Members of the Massachusetts Medical Society and Boston Medical Library Fellows are eligible for research assistant from the Countway Reference staff and at the Boston Medical Library Branch Library at the Massachusetts Medical Society, 860 Winter Street in Waltham. 

Remote Access to Licensed Digital Resources:

Access from outside the library building to databases, e-journals, and other digital resources licensed by Harvard University for the use of current faculty, staff, and students. Remote access to Harvard's digital resources requires a Harvard log in.

Remote Document Delivery (Countway Express):

This is a document delivery service providing all Harvard affiliates (anyone with a Harvard ID, Longwood-based or other), with faxed or mailed copies of chapters and articles from materials owned by Countway. Call (617) 432-2631 for a form and fee schedule. This service is available Monday-Friday, 9-5.

For those who wish to acquire copies of items owned by Countway who are ineligible for this program, we provide Interlibrary Loan to other libraries via Docline, OCLC, mail or fax ((617) 432-1833). Individuals should contact their own hospital or local institution libraries, or their local public library. Individuals may also wish to use the National Library of Medicine’s Loansome Doc ordering system. This program is not operated by the Countway Library.

Massachusetts Medical Society members without Harvard IDs can access this service through the Boston Medical Library Branch Library at 860 Winter Street in Waltham. 

Research Imaging Services:

Research Imaging Services provides digital graphic and imaging training, resources and support for researchers, clinicians, educators and administrators in the Harvard Medical School biomedical research and academic communities. Specific services include classes and individualized trainings that address imaging and presentation needs of researchers, graphics hardware and software support, assistance with poster creation and printing, and consulting services on imaging, hardware and software, workflow management for imaging projects, and image management. 

Scan and Deliver

Scan & Deliver is a free, electronic document delivery service for Harvard students, faculty, staff, summer school students and special borrowers with access to Harvard Library's electronic resources. You may request and obtain electronically scanned portions of certain items from the library collections that are currently on the shelf.

Warren Museum and Other Exhibits:

The Countway Library has three exhibit areas that are part of its larger public programming efforts. Access is permitted only when exhibits are open, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. The exhibit areas can be found here:

  • LL2 Lobby: Center for the History of Medicine exhibits
  • First floor lobby area: Library-wide exhibit area
  • Fifth floor atrium: Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibit Gallery

Phone for exhibit information: (617) 432-2170