Cathro was born in Newtown, New South Wales and attended Newington College (1957-1964) commencing as a preparatory school student in Wyvern House. In 1959, he was the Dux of Wyvern and in 1964 he was Dux of the College and received the Halse Rogers and Schofield Prizes. Following school, he commenced study at the University of Sydney and in 1969 graduated as a Bachelor of Science and was awarded his PhD in Physical Chemistry in 1975.
Cathro joined the staff of the National Library of Australia in January 1978 and on his retirement in 2011 held the position of Assistant Director-General, Resource Sharing and Innovation. During that time, Cathro played a leading role in the Library's delivery of innovative network services to the Australian library community including the Australian Bibliographic Network, Kinetica, and Libraries Australia. Cathro is considered the founder of Trove, which is the National Library's discovery service and links Australians to resources available online, and in Australian libraries, cultural institutions and research collections. It highlights material collected by 1100 Australian institutions and links to more than 120,000,000 items, including full-text books, journal and newspaper articles, images, music, sound, video, maps, websites, letters, archives, and biographies of prominent Australians. In 2010, the site received 3 million visits and now boasts an average of 25,000 unique visitors a day. Visitors to the site assist in correcting the machine-readable indexed text in the full-text newspaper section.
Cathro was awarded the H.C.L. Anderson award by the Australian Library and Information Association in 2012 for his contribution to the development of Australia's Trove discovery service and national newspaper digitisation project. Other awards include the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Library Manager of the Year (1991) and the VALA R D Williamson Award (1993).
- Trove Cathro, Warwick S. (1948-).Retrieved 17 June 2012
- National Library of Australia Dr Warwick Cathro - Trove Champion. Retrieved 17 June 2012
- Newington College Register of Past Students 1863-1998 (Syd, 1999) pp 31
- Newington College Register of Past Students 1863-1998 (Syd, 1999) Part 2 - The Lists
- "Alumni Sydneienses". University of Sydney. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- National Library of Australia Guide to Trove. Retrieved 17 June 2012
- "2012 HCL Anderson Award citation". Retrieved 3 December 2012.
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