NPR: 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. She followed that volume with a second collection, Learn Something New Every Day, 365 Facts to Fulfill Your Life (Wiley 2012).

Kee has received several awards in recognition of her contributions to the profession, include the 2012 Dow Jones Leadership Award presented by the Special Libraries Association. She is an active member of SLA and of Beta Phi Mu, the international honor society of librarianship.

6:32pm

Sat July 13, 2013
The Two-Way

In The Royal Baby Guessing Game, What's The Surname?

A worker of a games company poses with placards depicting a 'royal baby' near the St. Mary's Hospital Lindo Wing in London on Thursday. While Buckingham Palace has been mum on the subject, Saturday was rumored to be the official due date for the child who will become the third in line to the British throne.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanovers and now what?

There's been plenty of speculation about what name will be chosen for the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (better known as Will and Kate). Bets are being placed on Charlotte, Alice, Grace, Charles, George, James, etc. (see more possibilities below).

But what about a surname for the little tyke?

According to the BBC:

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7:50am

Sun December 30, 2012
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

Close Out The Year With Some Best-Selling Last Words

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 5:27 pm

iStockphoto.com

People often make lists of the greatest opening lines in fiction, but closing lines really appeal to me. They're your final moments with a book and can help you remember and treasure it forever.

The last weekend of the year seems an appropriate time to consider the final words of our favorite novels and short stories. Here are some that I'm especially fond of:

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

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5:12pm

Sat October 20, 2012
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

The Strangely True Tale Of Johnny Appleseed

Originally published on Sun October 21, 2012 3:07 pm

He's legend now, but Johnny Appleseed was as odd as his myth.
Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Apples — right off the tree, baked in a pie, pressed into cider or mashed into sauce — are a basic element of American culture. October is the month to celebrate them, thanks, in part, to Johnny Appleseed.

You've probably heard of the legendary character who traveled the Midwest planting trees, but he's not a myth. Johnny Appleseed's real name was John Chapman, and he was born in Massachusetts in either 1774 or 1775.

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8:14am

Sat September 15, 2012
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

Antietam 'Death Studies' Changed How We Saw War

Originally published on Sun October 21, 2012 3:08 pm

Alexander Gardner's original caption for this image: "A Lone Grave, on Battle-field of Antietam."
Alexander Gardner Library Of Congress

In mid-September 1862, the Civil War was only a year and a half old, and many Americans in the North and the South still clung to the view that this war was a noble, glorious, even romantic undertaking. That notion was shattered forever when Alexander Gardner and his assistant James Gibson, working for photographer Mathew Brady's firm, came to Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Md.

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5:06pm

Sat August 11, 2012
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

Feathers And Rubber Bands: A Golf Ball Story

Originally published on Sun October 21, 2012 3:09 pm

A "featherie" golf ball from the 1800s.
iStockphoto

If you're Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy teeing off in the final rounds of the 2012 PGA Championship this weekend, you're probably not thinking about the fascinating history of the golf ball. But those of us who are just spectating can take a moment to contemplate this little gem of modern engineering. From wood to feathers to tree sap, rubber bands, cork or compressed air — today's little white spheroid has had an interesting evolution.

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3:36pm

Sat July 28, 2012
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

Live Pigeon Shooting And Other Odd Olympic Games

Originally published on Sun October 21, 2012 3:11 pm

Leon de Lunden of Belgium won the live pigeon shooting event at the 1900 Olympics in Paris — the only time in Olympic history when animals were killed on purpose.
Popperfoto/Getty Images

The 1900 Olympic Games in Paris hosted what was surely the weirdest and most bizarre Olympic event of all time: live pigeon shooting.

The winner was Leon de Lunden of Belgium, who bagged 21 of the 300 birds that were released to the gun-toting competitors. Perhaps the sight of all those gory feathers fluttering down from the Olympic sky was too horrible for the audience and the organizers; the event never returned.

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12:15pm

Sat June 16, 2012
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

Follow The Money: On The Trail Of Watergate Lore

A photograph of the Watergate complex that was used as an exhibit in the trial of G. Gordon Liddy.
National Archives

"Follow the money" – a phrase that's now part of our national lexicon — was supposedly whispered to reporter Bob Woodward by Deep Throat as a way to cut through the lies and deceptions and find the truth about the Watergate scandal. The so-called third-rate burglary that happened 40 years ago this weekend ended the presidency of Richard Nixon. But did Mark Felt, the former associate director of the FBI who admitted to being Deep Throat in 2005, ever really say "follow the money"?

He did not.

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12:46am

Sun August 28, 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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12:15pm

Sun June 19, 2011
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

The First Supercomputer Vs. 'The Desk Set'

Two men operate the enormous UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer) in 1960.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images/Life

Now that we have handheld devices to do everything for us, it's hard to imagine the days when one computer filled a whole room.

Decades before today's microprocessors, the first commercially available computer used magnetic tape and 5,600 vacuum tubes. It weighed thousands of pounds and measured 25 by 50 feet. UNIVAC, short for Universal Automatic Computer, was put into service 60 years ago this week.

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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 4:42 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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