Historians face a "black hole" of lost material unless urgent action is taken to preserve websites and other digital records, the head of the British Library has warned.

Just as families store digital photos on computers which might never be passed on to their descendants, so Britain's cultural heritage is at risk as the internet evolves and technologies become obsolete, says Lynne Brindley, the library's chief executive.

Historians have become increasingly concerned that while the Domesday Book, written on sheepskin in 1086, is still easily accessible, the software for many decade-old computer files - including thousands of government records - already renders them unreadable. The ephemera of emails, text messages and online video add to the headache of the 21st-century archivist.

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