Library Staff

Library Staff

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Amanda Brewer, Library Director

Our director joined the library in April of 2016. 

She obtained her bachelor's degree from Buena Vista University in Social Work and History and her master's degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Social Work Administration.

Ms. Brewer was previously an Executive Director for fourteen years in the human service field and brings with her a wide variety of leadership and administrative experience.

As a library director, her goals are to ensure that the Harlan Community Library provides superior customer services and that our library continues to change with needs of our community and our patrons. 


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Emily Kurth-Christensen, Youth Services Librarian

Emily joined our library in 2016.  Her educational background includes a B.A. in Communication and German from Dana College and a Public Library Director Certificate from the State Library of Iowa.

Emily manages the library's youth collections and is responsible for all of the great programs we have available for our younger patrons. She also provides outreach programs to local preschools.  Emily enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Emily is married to Michael Christensen and is a mother of a two. She is known to be a little animal crazy and has had many different pets, including a one-eyed toad. Currently she has two cats, two dogs and a bearded dragon.

Miss Emily states, “Children’s books have always been an important part of my life. I collect picture books and enjoy reading them as much now, as I did when I was young. I absolutely love my job! Working with kids of all ages is tremendously rewarding. My library goals for the future are to continue to grow our youth collection, develop and implement new programming, find creative ways to serve our community, and always encourage a love of reading with everyone who comes my way.”


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Dena Jacobsen, Youth Services Clerk


Dena joined us as our our Youth Services Clerk in May 2019.  She has worked the last 21 years for the Avoca Journal Herald where she manages their bookkeeping, and also writes a weekly article for her book club.  Dena assists our Youth Services Librarian with children, tween, and teen programs and projects.  She also has launched the library's Babies & Books program which is hosted on bi-weekly Saturdays at 10am.  Dena has a passion for books, her book club groups, writing, and volunteering.  She lives in Avoca, but is originally from Omaha, NE and is married to Troy Jacobsen, a Harlan native. They have two children, who are both attending Iowa State College, and one dog named Louise.  Now that she has her children out of the home, she would like to return to school for a literature degree or a library science degree. Dena believes there is a book for everyone; so please ask her for recommendations. She has a love for many genres and loves to chat about all the books.


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Elizabeth Schechinger, Adult Services Librarian

Elizabeth Schechinger joined us at the end of October 2019. She grew up in Harlan and received her bachelor degree in English with a Professional Writing minor from the University of Northern Iowa. Her favorite genre to read is fantasy, but for the past couple of years she has been trying to branch out and try others. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas are two of her favorite series so far.  Elizabeth enjoys volunteering in the community. She comes from two big families in the Shelby County area.  We are excited to have her join our Harlan Community Library team!



Elaine Sprague, Cataloging Clerk

Elaine is originally from Carroll, Iowa, graduating from Carroll High School.  She attend the University of Iowa.  Elaine and her husband Ken off 55 years, moved to Harlan in 1968, when he accepted a position as a high school math teacher at HCHS.  They have four sons.  Elaine was a stay at home mother until her boys were in school.  She then joined the library staff in 1978, as the Children's Librarian, a position she held for 22 years.  The next 18 years, she was assistant director.  Two years ago, deciding she wasn't ready to retire, she opted to work part as acquisitions and cataloging clerk.


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Deborah Schechinger, Circulation Clerk

Deb has been married to her husband, Mark for 38 years. She has a daughter, son-in-law and two fabulous grand daughters. Deb started her working career as a secretary and bookkeeper and eventually went back to college to become a nurse. She loved being a nurse but always joked with her friends that when they all retired, they would do something fun. Being a life-long lover of books and a reader of various genres, what better job than at a library.  The perfect time and the perfect position as Circulation Clerk at the Harlan Library became available three years ago. “My goal is to open the amazing world of reading to everyone - to encourage people to try different genres so they can connect with stories unheard of, take adventures they never dreamed of, and imagine. My favorite genre is historical fiction, but there is pretty much no subject I won’t read about. Other hobbies include travel, history, cooking different ethnic foods, fishing and the outdoors.”


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Linda Burger, Library Technician

Linda was born and raised in rural Harlan, Iowa and graduated from Harlan Community High School. She completed higher education for a medical office assistant and is a certified medication manager. Linda is happily married and has 3 sons and 6 grandchildren. Linda has been employed with the city for 32 years and has enjoyed 22 of those years at the library. Linda also works at Concerned Inc. and has been serving people with varying disabilities since 2011.  Part of Linda's many responsibilties at the library is helping others complete research in our archives.  She enjoys geneology and learning about history.