Josephy Library to open in Coffin House

<I>Elane Dickenson/Chieftain</I><BR>Rich Wandschneider shows off a gem in the Josephy collection - the original paper on Indian affairs written by Alvin M. Josephy for the Nixon administration that is credited with stopping the policy of disbanding Indian reservations. Library volunteer Pam Slinker looks on.

After two years of preparation, the Josephy Library on the second floor of Fishtrap's Coffin House in Enterprise will be open to researchers and the general public from 10 to 1 p.m. every Saturday starting March 13.

The library will be modest at first, with only a fraction of the thousands of books, magazines and papers from the collection of the renowned historian and writer, Alvin M. Josephy Jr., so far catalogued and on the shelf.

About a dozen volunteers gathered recently for a training session in order to know how to help visitors during library hours.

"It's going to be a very cool place," said Rich Wandschneider, who has coordinated the establishment library. Fishtrap will eventually add a whole new addition to their headquarters at 400 E. Grant St., and blueprint plans are already drawn. For now the library will be housed in shelves made by Don Swart of Joseph in a former bedroom, where a work table has been set up.

The library will not be a circulating library and there is no card index; the library's resources - the 400 or so cataloged thus far - are researchable on-line.

Officially named the Alvin M. and Betty Josephy Library of Western History and Culture at Fishtrap, the library will promote "the exploration of Western and American Indian history and culture," while honoring the lives of the Josephys - his work as a historian and the couple's advocacy for Indians.

Originally the hope was that Josephy's massive collection - divided between his homes in rural Joseph and in Connecticut at the time of his death at age 90 in 2005 - would be kept together by Fishtrap.

However, Wandschneider said the realization of the responsibility and cost of being THE Josephy research library, resulted in the collection being divided between Fishtrap and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian (of which Josephy was founding board chairman). He said the Smithsonian representative traveled here and he went to Connecticut to divide the books, with the museum receiving the bulk of the collection. The Smithsonian occasionally sends books to Fishtrap, if it finds it has duplicates or items that are specific to the Nez Perce or Wallowa County.

Wandschneider took the volunteer group to the basement of the Fishtrap House where dozens of boxes of Josephy's books still awaited cataloguing.

The volunteer in charge of that task is Shannon Maslach, former Joseph High School librarian who recently earned a masters degree in library science.

She taught the volunteer group how to help researchers find a particular book or subject with the aid of a laptop computer, which will be available to library patrons.

The library catalog is also available to home computer users on the SAGE website, hosted by Eastern Oregon University, along with 60 other libraries in Eastern Oregon. It is located at (; website visitors scroll down the list of libraries to "Josephy Library" and use the keyword search.

In the library itself, the Library of Congress cataloging method is used, with modifications. For example, any items that are written by or have contributions from Alvin Josephy are shelved in the left hand shelves.

Wandschneider said that while Josephy's own books and papers will form the core of the library, Fishtrap's own book collection - including 25 years worth of audiotapes of Fishtrap Gatherings and other events - will also be included.

Fishtrap is also selectively accepting other donations that will go into the library, for example the books and papers of Wallowa County's late historian and museum curator, Grace Bartlett.

Among a few items Wandschneider pointed out to volunteers: an influential position paper Josephy wrote on Indian affairs for the Nixon administration and a collection of original maps used in his 1965 book "The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest"

For more information about the Josephy library: (

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