Thursday, March 10, 2011

CBR3-12: All Facts Considered - Kee Malesky

For the bestselling miscellany market, an NPR librarian's compendium of fascinating facts on history, science, and the arts
How much water do the Great Lakes contain? Who were the first and last men killed in the Civil War? How long is a New York minute? What are the lost plays of Shakespeare? What building did Elvis leave last? Get the answers to these and countless other vexing questions in a All Facts Considered. Guaranteed to enlighten even the most seasoned trivia buff, this treasure trove of "who knew?" factoids spans a wide range of intriguing subjects.
  • Written by noted NPR librarian Kee Malesky, whom Scott Simon has called the "source of all human knowledge"
  • Answers questions on history, natural history, science, religion, language, and the arts
  • Packed with valuable nuggets of information, from the useful to the downright bizarre
The perfect gift for every inquiring mind that wants to know, All Facts Considered will put you at the center of the conversation as you show off your essential store of inessential yet irresistible knowledge. -

This book is written by my colleague Kee Malesky who patiently answered my question about 'how the book writing was going' every time I saw her at work. I really enjoyed reading the introduction to the book.  Kee highlights main reasons on why us librarians are librarians.  Often times Kee's name is the librarian named on the air, but she was gracious in the introduction and acknowledgments to recognize the team of librarians that NPR has.

Instead of pulling out facts included in the book that I found interesting, I'm going to post some questions that were asked of Kee for the DC/SLA chapter newsletter.  Read the book - it's witty and interesting and you'll learn something.  But I want to share more about the great librarian and person behind the book as well.

You’ve been a librarian at NPR for over 20 years can you tell us how NPR has changed over the decades and how that’s affected your job?

I've seen NPR evolve from land lines and typewriters to satellites and computers. NPR has always been on the cutting edge of technological developments, and the library has been an integral part of that -- creating in-house databases to document our programs and make the material easily available, providing desktop research tools to the staff, maintaining current awareness of changes in commercial and primary sources so we are constantly improving the service we provide. 
In all your years at NPR what’s the assignment or accomplishment you’re most proud of?
I would probably say I'm most proud of the briefing books we produce for national elections and other events. They used to be massive 800+ page volumes, and now we can provide the same info on our News Wiki in ways that are even more flexible and useful than the print editions. I'm currently starting a project that could make me very proud -- creating an Audio Pronunciation Guide.
Can you walk us through the process of writing the book? After you thought of writing it what happened next? What was the most challenging part of the process?
I wrote a brief proposal, which included an essay about facts and what they mean and how they change (that became the Introduction to the book). Once it was accepted by the publisher, I arranged to take some time off from NPR and started on the research. Most of the facts in the book are not from actual questions I have answered at the NPR Reference Desk, but I did look through dozens of my old reference desk notebooks for queries that involved interesting facts. I carried a little notebook and pencil everywhere I went, to write down ideas as I found them. Much of the research was done online -- using commercial databases; government, academic and association websites; and online library resources. I also made several visits to the DC Public Library and to the Library of Congress. I collected as many reputable sources as I needed to compile the essential details of each fact, then I tried to tell its story in a couple of paragraphs. It took about six months to research and write. Once the editor accepted the manuscript, I worked with production and copy-editors until we were all satisfied with the final product. I turned in the final Index at the beginning of September.
Check out Kee's website for more interviews and listings of her sources for the book as well.

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