May 28, 2024

The first book Michael Golden fell in love with was ‘The Little Bear’ the story of a little bear who, along with his mother, had adventures in the woods. That book led Michael on his career adventure, including five years as a chemist and his current position as the Lab’s librarian.


“This is the first time I’ve been just a science librarian.  I spent five years as a chemist and found I loved the research but didn’t love the lab work. While I was trying to figure things out, I discovered I could help others do their research through work as an academic librarian.”

How do you support research at the Lab?

There are many ways we can help people who are doing research. Some people come looking for a specific book, and others need assistance learning how to look for materials. You can access a lot of electronic information using the Lab's Virtual Private Network (VPN) log-on. You can log into the UC library system, which has most, if not all, electronic subscriptions. However, many articles are only available once you sign into the Lab’s VPN network.

How did you end up at the Lab?

Believe it or not, it was square dancing. I’m originally from Kansas City and was active in gay square dancing.  I came to Santa Clara for a gay square dancing convention and met someone. We wanted to see if our relationship could work out, so I moved to San Francisco. I saw an ad for a librarian job at the Lab and applied. 

And yes, the square dancing meet-up worked out. We’re married and still love to dance. My husband is a square dance caller, so we’re out often. If you aren’t familiar with gay square dancing, it’s different from what you might remember if you learned about it in elementary school. The dress is casual. If you don’t have a partner on the dance floor, you raise your hand, and someone without a partner will join you. It’s lots of fun for everyone. The annual convention is coming to San Francisco next year

What surprised you when you first came to the Lab?

I was surprised at the size of the property and how the buildings were spread out. In my head, I was thinking it would be one or two giant buildings. When I started 18 years ago, the shuttles were old-school buses. There were no seat belts, and the drivers attacked the curves. It was like an E-ticket ride in Disneyland. 

Knowing what you know now,  what advice do you wish you knew the first day at the Lab?

I would tell myself to learn as much as possible about the entire library. When I started, the library was a different concept. We had a reference desk and intra-library loan, and we photocopied articles from our extensive journal collection for people.  

Technology has taken us from a vast print collection to a vast electronic subscription service. While personal computers allow people to conduct more research independently, librarians are still around to help you find the information you need to conduct your research. 

Visit the Berkeley Lab Research Library website at to get an overview of services.