Today's blog post is of particular significance to the team of people working on Trove, as it concerns the career of Dr Warwick Cathro, one of Trove's initiatiors and champions. Dr Cathro retires today, after 33 1/3 years leading innovation in the National Library.
Dr Cathro’s career has been defined by a drive for offering innovative services; and a passion for building those based on collaboration across libraries, the research and cultural sector. Both of these are illustrated by his publications which you can find through Trove.
Shortly after he joined the National Library in 1978, Dr Cathro became a champion of library standards that facilitated the sharing of records and expertise among librarians in different institutions, as well as enabling technical innovation – MAchine Readable Cataloguing. His passion for ensuring these standards would be implemented and used led to the passionate and controversial missive, Can AACR2 Survive the Library of Congress?
Dr Cathro was quickly drawn into working on what became the Australian Bibliographic Network. Allowing for centralised cataloguing, and inter-library loans; this was one of the first online library data sharing services worldwide.
A popular and enthusiastic leader in his field, Warwick received the dedication for the the Bicentennial Cataloguers Songsheet, prepared for the 1988 catalougers dinner.
In a 1985 article, The Politics of Sharing, Dr Cathro outlined his growing views on the importance of collaboration between libraries in providing services to the public. In the conclusion to the article, he wrote:
“…The attempts to discover open networks … illustrates very clearly that it will be possible, given enough skill and determination, for libraries to play an important role in the total information sector. If libraries really have a commitment to share, they have a chance to discover effective mechanisms to do it, irrespective of changes in particular technologies.”
Sixteen years later, this vision for libraries to work together to provide new, innovative and vital services, still burns brightly in another key publication, Smashing the Silos, Towards Convergence in Information Management and Resource Discovery, in which Dr Cathro wrote:
“It is easy for institutions to overlook the implications of the fact that their network space is shared. Institutions tend not to focus on the fact that "their" clients are actually the users of many services. These users do not wish to repeat their information search many times in different systems. … To meet the needs of our users, we must address the issue of convergence. At its basic level, convergence is about providing users with the power to search across categories of information resource that have traditionally been separated.” In this article, are the seeds that eventually became Trove.
Trove moved from a vision to a project as the decade progressed, and project documents track the development of the service. Warwick was also one of the early champions and supporters of the project to digitise Australian newspapers, now core content in Trove.
Many of our users may not realise the depth of collaboration that underpins the delivery of Trove, which showcases data shared by thousands of organisations. Features such as the new subscription journal searches have only been possible through the support and participation of organisations such as the National and State Libraries Australasia and commercial partners. It is unimaginable without the work of Dr Cathro and other forward-looking librarians. It is perhaps appropriate then, that the most recent professional publication of Dr Cathro’s available through Trove returns directly to the theme of collaboration which first motivated the construction of library standards, and data sharing systems.
It’s not bad for a single career – pioneering essential library standards; developing one of the world’s first online data sharing library systems, and then Trove, the most used Australian library system yet, but Dr Cathro had time for other pursuits, reflected in Trove, including a PhD in chemistry, and involvement in the Bywong Community Association.
Warwick’s daily energy, integrity, optimism and enthusiasm will be greatly missed by those working on Trove and Libraries Australia. We have no doubt, however, that he will continue to make his mark in retirement, and we’re curious to see that reflected in Trove records into the future.