The first thing to know is that the Archives can be thought of in four distinctive sections: the Research Room, office/work Spaces, and Collection Quarantine, and the "Vault".
You are probably most familiar with the Research Room - this is the place where researchers come and browse our Family History Files, Subject Files, and our extensive Research Library of local materials. It's the public 'front' of the Archives. Then there's workspaces of course, where staff, volunteers, and the public have desks, large tables and counter space to work on. There's also the quarantine area, where we freeze and clean incoming items before they are added to the collection.
You may not, however, have ever seen the back room of the Archives where we house all of the unpublished items in the archives collection: one-of-a-kind photographs, maps, diagrams, diaries, personal collections of documents, and so much more. We call it "The Vault". It's a pretty amazing place. You can access items in the vault on request if you're doing research. The Vault is also where we house the backlog of donated items that are awaiting processing as they are added to the collection.
Like all archives, we have a backlog of donated materials that hasn't been added to our collection. We work on the backlog whenever we can, but all of the paperwork, adding items to our database, applying conservation methods, and properly housing the materials takes a lot of time. With limited staff and resources, it really adds up. Here's what our backlog looked like in the spring of 2016:
The "Before" project photos: