Genealogy Company Finds New Life

microfilm roll


The American Genealogical Lending Library (AGLL), a family owned, Utah-based company, preserves and sells historical documents and family histories to genealogists and the general public


AGLL’s content inventory included files, records, and individual documents dating back hundreds of years, mostly in the form of papers, books, journals, microfilm, micrographics and so forth.
During the 1990s, with the rapid growth of the Internet, the company’s survival depended on making its content searchable and accessible online. AGLL faced multiple challenges, stemming from the sheer volume of information that needed to be converted, from multiple formats:

• The content consisted mostly of handwritten original documents. Hence, AGLL needed a data entry vendor with a large number of operators who were proficient in deciphering old cursive handwriting.

• Most of the content was preserved on microfilm or fiche, and so the vendor also needed enough microfilm reader machines to accommodate the enormous volume of work in a timely manner.

• If the conversion process was not quick, efficient, accurate, and cost effective, it would be difficult if not impossible for AGLL to generate an adequate return on its investment and would eventually be forced to exit the business.


To address these challenges, IIMI brought in handwriting specialists from the USA to work with the offshore IIMI team and train local operators in old English patterns and nuances. IIMI invested in a large-scale data conversion shop equipped with microfilm readers. To minimize costs, IIMI purchased used and refurbished readers at deep discounts—microfilm readers were about to become obsolete—from libraries and other organizations in the USA.


• IIMI converted 30 million pages of documents for AGLL in a period of 48 months, which was three months ahead of schedule.

• Moreover, IIMI completed the work under budget, further strengthening AGLL’s return on investment.

• A few years later, because of the successful completion of the handwriting-based project by IIMI, ProQuest, a Bell & Howell company, acquired AGLL for a very attractive price.

• This project helped IIMI to become a data entry vendor employing the largest pool of cursive-handwriting-proficient data conversion specialists in the industry.

• Keying handwritten content from multiple sources and in multiple languages requires a unique skill set with distinct demands and applications. Specialists need the ability to read and enter information from a wide variety of documents: credit card applications, survey forms, coupons, rebates, bookkeeping forms, tax forms, checks, warranty cards—the list goes on. IIMI has emerged as the industry leader in handwritten data conversion.


With corporate headquarters in the US, a marketing office in Singapore, and eight service locations in Asia, IIMI has been a worldwide leader in BPO services since 1996. IIMI has 3500 full-time employees and can manage virtually any labor-intensive data entry and conversion processes, financial and accounting services, and much more, offsite, at a fraction of the cost of doing the work in-house.