Kee Malesky

NPR listeners often ask, "What is her name anyway - Keema Leski, Kim Alesky, Kay Marlenski, or what?" Her name is Kee Malesky, nee Christine Mary Shields, of Brooklyn, N.Y. The "Christine" became "Kee" when her youngest sister learned to talk, and because she thought it was a really cool name, she stuck with it.

With her colleagues in the Reference Library, Kee Malesky performs background research, answers fact-checking questions, finds experts and story ideas, and provides guidance to staff on grammar, usage, and pronunciations (but don't blame her when someone says "nook-yoo-ler"). She coordinates the library's internal News Wiki, and has also worked on special projects for NPR -- producing Election Night briefing books, documenting the early history of the network, and assisting with journalist training projects.

Kee has been married since 1970 to Robert Malesky, who was the senior producer of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday for twenty years. However, they are not on the official "NPR Couples" list because they met and married before either of them came to NPR.

After several years as an administrative drudge for NPR, Kee abandoned the network to get her Masters degree in Library Science from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She had planned to find a position deep in an archive somewhere with no human contact, but was lured back to NPR by her friends in the Broadcast Library in 1984. After cataloguing NPR programs for three years, Kee became the staff librarian for the original version of NPR's arts magazine program, Performance Today, and then moved to the News Reference Library in 1990.

Breaking the Mold: The Kee Malesky Story (2003) is a completely fictional account of Kee's early life. Producer Josh Seftel, working on a documentary about environmental science, asked Kee for permission to use her name for the character, a high school girl who enjoys research and finds the solution to a house mold problem that is making people sick. Aired on PBS and at film festivals around the country, the short film has been well-received by reviewers and audiences. The Providence Journal called it "a zanily eccentric tale."

In 2009, Kee took some time off to write All Facts Considered; The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge (Wiley 2010), a compendium of interesting and unusual facts that she has accumulated during more than two decades answering questions for NPR reporters, editors, and hosts.

In her copious spare time, Kee collects books and New York City memorabilia, enjoys European travel, and works on her family genealogy. She was the subject of a chapter in Super Searchers in the News: The Online Secrets of Journalists and News Researchers (2000, Information Today Inc.) and co-authored the entry on "News Libraries" for the electronic edition of the Encyclopedia of Library & Information Science (2003). Kee has been a member of the adjunct faculty of Catholic University's School of Library and Information Science, and is active in the Special Libraries Association and in Beta Phi Mu, the international honor society of library science.

 

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10:46pm

Sat August 27, 2011
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

An American Rebellion, Sparked By Tough Times

An engraved illustration of fighting during Shays' Rebellion of 1786, circa 1850.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A war is ending and economic times are tough. Taxes are high and property foreclosures common. Streets are filled with protesters. Sounds familiar, I know, but I'm not talking about today's news.

It was the Revolutionary War, winding down in 1783, and the national government was massively in debt and having enormous difficulty paying the soldiers who had fought the war.

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8:09am

Sat April 9, 2011
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

The Civil War's First Death Was An Accident

Originally published on Sat May 5, 2012 2:42 pm

Lithograph of the 1861 bombardment of Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Harbor.
Currier & Ives Library Of Congress

April 14 marks the date 150 years ago that the first person was killed in the Civil War — but there's more to the story.

The First To Die

The first shots of the War Between the States were fired at Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Harbor in 1861. Federal troops, under command of Maj. Robert Anderson, surrendered to Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard after an artillery bombardment that had begun on April 12.

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9:41pm

Fri March 4, 2011
Strange News

Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

Whenever we here at NPR want to learn something or have a pressing question, we go to the legendary Kee Malesky, our longest-serving librarian, who prowls through the precincts of all knowledge.

Kee is the author of the book All Facts Considered, and she sometimes visits Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon to enlighten us with trivial treasures.

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