Amitabha Buddhist Library – Background

The Amitabha Buddhist Library in Chicago, which was conceived of by Director Li-Su L. Tan, was established in 2003. She was very moved when she first listened to a Pure Land Buddhism lecture given by Master Venerable Chin Kung on a television channel she unintentionally tuned in to. From that moment, the deep affinity she had with Buddha Amitabha and the Western Pure Land began to grow stronger.

In the beginning, Li-Su requested some audio tapes, CDs, and sutras for her own use from Pure Land associations on the East and West Coasts of the United States. Dharma friends on the two coasts generously kept sending her Dharma materials that were more than adequate for her personal use. Therefore, she began to distribute these materials freely. As more Dharma items continued to arrive, the 2000 sq. ft. basement of Li-Su’s home was not able to hold all of these materials. Li-su and Bert Tan conceived the idea of establishing a library and a cultivation center to make the Dharma items publicly available, and to provide a cultivation place for Dharma friends in this area.

In addition to the general library services, the library also provides free distribution and circulation of Dharma materials of all kinds, including Dharma lectures on CD, cassette tapes, and DVDs, as well as printed sutras, chanting machines, chanting beads, Buddha image posters and cards, and more. In addition, since December 2002, the library has acted on behalf of the Pure Land Learning College in Australia to assist the Corporate Body of Buddha Education Foundation in Taiwan to donate copies of the Qianlong Great Buddhist Canon and other Dharma teaching materials. The Canon, and other materials that are in various languages, including Chinese, English, and Pali, are donated to research institutes, national libraries, and university libraries worldwide. This is a continuing effort. More details can be found at the “Sponsor the Library” link in the library’s home page at

The library is equipped with computers, satellite television, and broadband Internet access. It is open from 12:00–5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 12:00–3:00 p.m. on Sunday. Sunday morning chanting is from 10:00–11:30 a.m. and is followed by a vegetarian lunch. All services are provided free of charge.

In addition, the following free programs are offered on a regular basis.

  • Sunday Dharma Talk. The talk is given by Director Li-Su L. Tan every Sunday after lunch unless otherwise announced. Co-Director Bert Tan provides the simultaneous translation.
  • The children’s class is taught by Ms. Hui-Chuan Weng, and is coordinated with school calendars. The class meets every other Saturday afternoon.

The library is operated solely by volunteers. Li-Su L. Tan serves as the Director, Bert Tan as the Co-Director, Edith Wong and Hui-Chuan Weng are in charge of cataloging, Mei-Ling Tai and Irene Huang are in charge of general affairs, and Eleanor Wang is in charge of Public Relations. There is also a dedicated team whose members staff the library daily, and an instrument team that supports the Sunday morning chanting session. We always need support from volunteers and would like to take this opportunity to invite those who are interested in community service and in the distribution of Dharma materials to join the team and experience the joy received from serving others.

And in closing, although the library does not conduct fund raising of any kind, voluntary contributions are always welcome.


Grand Opening Story

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Lisle Sun on August 22, 2003.

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