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Marble lectern in the Pisa Baptistry, Italy

A lectern (from the Latin lectus, past participle of legere, “to read”) is a reading desk, with a slanted top,

usually placed on a stand or affixed to some other form of support, on which documents or books are placed as support for reading aloud,

as in a scripture reading, lecture, or sermon.

To facilitate eye-contact and improve posture when facing an audience, lecterns may have adjustable height and slant.

People generally use lecterns while standing.

In pre-modern usage, the word lectern was used to refer specifically to the “reading desk or stand …

from which the Scripture lessons (lectiones) … are chanted or read

.”[1] One 1905 dictionary states that “the term is properly applied only to the class mentioned [church book stands] as independent of the pulpit.”

[2] By the 1920s, however, the term was being used in a broader sense, for example,

in reference to a memorial service in Carnegie Hall,

it was stated that “the lectern from which the speakers talked was enveloped in black.”[3]