Mobile phones and computers may soon be officially allowed in libraries across Hertfordshire.

A by-law currently prevents the use of mobile telephones, portable computer or recording equipment in libraries, without the consent of a library officer.

But in a review of the by-laws the county council is looking to ditch the rule completely.

The move was backed by a meeting of the education, libraries and localism cabinet panel on Thursday (February 8).

But it will still need approval by a meeting of the full council and the Secretary of State for  the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, before the changes are made.

Significantly, the proposed by-law changes also broaden the definition of a library officer in Hertfordshire to include volunteers.

“The by-laws are intended to help libraries deliver their service within a safe and comfortable environment, to safeguard library property and to make libraries pleasant places for everyone,” says the report to the cabinet panel.

“They assist the library workforce in their daily role, they can be used when necessary to deal with the more extreme cases of behaviour experienced and they allow for flexibility in dealing with local concerns.”

Among the recommended changes to the by-laws is another designed – for the first time – to deliberately cover the use of online library services.

It specifically allows library officers to bar users from online resources, if they fail to comply with library conditions.

They would also remove a by-law that prohibits “engaging in audible conversation in any part of the library where such conversation is prohibited”.

Still included is a clause that gives a library officer the authority to ask someone to leave the library if they are “offensively unclean”.

And, according to the proposed by-laws, it is not permitted to act in a violent, disorderly or indecent manner, or to use offensive, insulting or obscene language.

Breaking any of the library by-laws can result in a fine.