Yesterday at Dewey Manor we celebrated the retirement of Cosmo Tassone, a senior specialist and irreplaceable colleague in the Library of Congress’s Decimal Classification Division (DCD). We wish him a wonderful retirement. We’ll miss him sorely.
Before coming to DCD in 1974, Cosmo taught English and American literature and rhetoric for seven years (Georgetown University, University of Maryland, U.S. Naval Academy). He also studied French cooking, though he never worked as a chef. In DCD he became the expert in classifying languages and literature, and also food and wines. He was a strong and effective advocate of the change implemented in 2000 that allows standard literary period notation to be added for literature in English by authors not from the U.S., Canada, or Europe, and for literature in French, Spanish, and Portuguese by authors not from Europe.
Cosmo worked right up to the end, leaving the Dewey editors with one of his hard questions: where to class American Sign Language literature. 419.7 American Sign Language is a linguistics number that cannot be used for literature (belles lettres). The editors are now pondering where in Table 6 Languages to create a number for sign languages that can be used to build a proper literature number. In the meantime, American Sign Language literature is in standing room at 890 Literatures of other specific languages and language families.
Cosmo contributed his punning toast to the retirement celebration for Nobuko Ohashi and Ruth Freitag. David Smith, former chief of DCD, contributed this poem for Cosmo’s celebration:
Chewed Dewey’s bone
For thirty-odd years.
But shed no tears,
For our boulevardier,
Downshifting a gear,
Having paid his dues,
Shuffles off to Syracuse.