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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.