DNA Chapter Two: Testing Companies

We’ve all heard the advice that we need to test the DNA of as many relatives as we can afford to test, and upload our results to as many websites as possible so we can identify as many matches as possible.  In addition, the most important piece of advice for new genealogists is to test your oldest relatives as soon as possible, before it’s too late.

Fortunately, in the older generation, I’ve tested my mother and her brother, my uncle. There are none left in that generation on my mother’s side, and my father was an only child. Unfortunately, I no longer have any siblings to test, but on the bright side, I have six first cousins, two children, one niece and one nephew. Two of my first cousins, and my niece and nephew, have already tested on their own. I gave my children DNA test kits for Christmas.  So the only close relatives I need to test are my four remaining first cousins.  Then I move on to second cousins.

It seems that the primary three websites for autosomal DNA testing are Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA, and Gedmatch.  23andme doesn’t seem to be the website of choice for genealogists, but certainly we can find matches there as well.  MyHeritage has recently jumped into the DNA market, which means that database will be very small for awhile.  FamilyTreeDNA seems to be the one used the most by professionals because of its extremely helpful tools (that’s the one Dr. Thomas Jones uses for his DNA analytics, and he’s my hero!). I use the word “seems” because I’m not really qualified to make a declarative statement about these things – I’m just repeating what I think is true based on my limited knowledge and experience.

I’ve read that you should test at Ancestry first.  That’s because Ancestry doesn’t allow you to upload test results from another company, so unless you test with them directly, it isn’t possible to get your DNA results into the Ancestry database.  They do, however, allow you to download your raw DNA data, which you can then upload to FamilyTreeDNA and Gedmatch.

The list price for an Ancestry DNA test is $99, but it frequently goes on sale. Until the RootsTech conference earlier this month, the lowest sale price I’d ever seen was $69, and that’s the price I paid for the three tests I purchased for my two children and my ex-husband for Christmas.  But at the conference, Ancestry was selling the tests for $49 each – that’s 50% off!   I bought the maximum number allowed – five tests (watch out family, if I’m visiting you in my RV this year, you can be sure I’m going to ask you to spit into a test tube!).

 

Ancestry DNA test kits bought on sale!
Ancestry DNA test kits bought on sale!

Once you’ve tested at Ancestry, you can download the raw data and upload it to Gedmatch for free – so that’s a no-brainer.

As for FamilyTreeDNA, up until very recently, they couldn’t accept Ancestry DNA data if you tested after May of 2016, which was the case with my children and my ex.  If your Ancestry DNA was older than that, you could transfer it for $39.  They also have sales sometimes – in fact, in my recent transfer frenzy, I was all ready to upload my mother’s DNA from 23andme to FamilyTreeDNA, and mine from Ancestry, and pay the $39 for each test, when I realized I had already transferred it.

My mother tested several years ago at 23andme on a recommendation from her doctor, and I jumped right on it at the time (thank goodness I did). Then, two weeks before my mother died, evidently (I say that because I remember none of this) FamilyTreeDNA had a big sale on transfers – it was free.  So I transferred hers from 23andme and mine from Ancestry.  It’s amazing how grief will just wipe your brain clean.

Last week, when I was looking at the matches for my mother and I on FamilyTreeDNA for the first time, I discovered that there was a catch to this free transfer, which is that not all features of the standard “FamilyFinder” autosomal test are available to me.  To “unlock” those features will cost $19, which I’m not going to do, at least for now.  All I really need are the matches (which shows how closely you match by displaying the number of centimorgans you have in common), and the ability to communicate with the matches.

Then, just a few days ago, FamilyTreeDNA announced that they can now accept the more recent Ancestry DNA data, and the transfer is free, with the same limitations I found with my Mom’s DNA.  For the extra $19, you get access to the Chromosome Browser, myOrigins and AncientOrigins.  I think that the latter two are some type of ethnicity percentages and haplogroup information – but you might already have that from other websites.

As for the Chromosome Browser tool, that will create a chromosome map which shows which chromosome segments you share with your matches. It’s cool looking, but one thing I learned at the RootsTech conference is that it doesn’t matter which segments you share with your matches.  The chromosome maps are great and fun visuals, but knowing which segments you have in common doesn’t help in your research.  At least, that’s my understanding right now.

Plus, if you really want to see a chromosome map, you can create one for free using the chromosome mapping tool developed by genealogist Kitty Cooper.  I’ll do a separate post on that once I practice with it for awhile!

Chromosome Map from Kitty Cooper's Blog
Chromosome Map from Kitty Cooper’s Blog

To summarize, we should test on Ancestry first, download the raw data, and upload it to Gedmatch and FamilyTreeDNA for free.

So, I’ve now transferred all of the Ancestry and 23andme tests I administer over to Gedmatch and FamilyTreeDNA. In addition to those, I have my uncle’s Y-DNA at FamilyTreeDNA.  I was able to use the same saliva sample to upgrade to the FamilyFinder autosomal test, and upgrade to the 111 Y-DNA test at the same time, for a total of $169.  I could have chosen to test my uncle at Ancestry, but I really didn’t want to ask him to spit again, and I think if his autosomal DNA is at FamilyTreeDNA and Gedmatch, that will be enough.  And, in his case, I’ll have access to the full analytical tools on the FamilyTreeDNA website.  Once I understand those tools better, I can decide whether I want to upgrade the others for $19 each.

I’ve found that it’s really easy to get confused about whose DNA is where.  So I’ve created a table where I can track all the samples I administer, and the sites where they’ve been uploaded, along with kit numbers and passwords.  My ex-mother-in-law and sister-in-law are also testing, and then there’ll be the five tests I bought at RootsTech – so the administration tasks will become even more complex down the road.  It’s a good time to get a tracking system in place.

Lots more to come on this topic as I learn more!

 

Sarasota: My Happy Place

When I think back to where I was a year ago, so many feelings come up, but mostly relief- I’m SO GLAD I’m not there!  If I had known then that I would be here now, it would’ve been easier, but I didn’t know when I would sell my house.  I was in the middle of another winter where I was often snowed in by myself, and unable to afford a proper snow removal service for my extra-long, steep driveway.  Any time we had a winter storm, I was outside after work in the dark with my snow shovel, trying my best to keep the driveway from freezing overnight, so I could get to work the next day.

Looking down the driveway (to the left) at my former home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Looking down the driveway (to the left) at my former home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
View from the back of my former home looking up at Mom's house at the top of the driveway
View from the back of my former home looking up at Mom’s house at the top of the driveway

Every day, I saw my mother’s dark empty house at the top of the driveway, which created a pit in my stomach each time.  It certainly could have been worse, but it was a friggin’ nightmare compared to where I am today.  And it was a nightmare which had been preceded by several other nightmares.  It’s so true that “we do what we have to do”, and we surprise ourselves when we live through it.

I had completely forgotten what it feels like to be this happy.

I am LOVING my winter in Florida!  The weather has generally been in the 70’s, with lows in the 50’s – quite perfect. Every time I go outside, I’m extremely aware of how incredibly lovely it is, and how fortunate I am to be here!  I don’t even bother to put the top up on my car, because I never need to – which adds to the overwhelming feeling of freedom I have.  Driving around town in the open car in shorts, sandals, and a sleeveless top in January, with the sun shining down on me, makes the smallest errand feel like I’m on vacation.

I’ve joined the YMCA, I’ve joined the local genealogical society, and I’ve joined Meetup to get together with people for different activities – walks, movies, bowling, happy hours, all sorts of things.  The people here are generally relaxed and happy.  Many are retired and single, and, like me, they’re also looking for new friends.  So I feel like I fit in.

Staying at my cousin’s house makes me feel like a princess in a castle – it’s a lovely, comfortable home, still full of my aunt’s unique possessions, including family pictures everywhere.   My mother’s sister had the house built in 1989, when she was 57.  She was a creative thinker, and had custom features installed, like an electrical outlet under the couch in the middle of the living room so no one would trip over the lamp cords, a Murphy bed in the third bedroom, a built-in ironing center in the master bedroom, a fireplace which is rare in Florida, a window seat, a custom spice drawer and slide-out drawer cabinets for pots in the kitchen.  It’s not a big house, but it’s classy. She knew what she wanted.

My Mom and my aunt were just 15 months apart and were very close friends.  Mom visited her sister here often, and every day I hear their laughter as I’m cooking in the same kitchen – they were both over-the-top fun to be with!  So being here feels comforting.  It feels like I’m with my family. I feel so grateful to my cousin for letting me stay here.

My Aunt Arden and my Mom at Arden's Sarasota house
My Aunt Arden and my Mom at Arden’s Sarasota house

So it’s not surprising that I started to think that maybe I’ve found my “happy place.”  Maybe this is the place where I should settle down.  I like that it’s easy to get here from the northeast, and that Florida is a place where many of my friends will retire.  I LOVE that it’s near the beach, and there’s lots of water everywhere.  I LOVE the west coast, because one of my favorite things to do is sit on the beach and watch the sunset over the Gulf.   I could actually afford to buy a home of some sort here – maybe not in Sarasota, but somewhere close.  And of course maybe eventually my cousin and her husband will retire here – I’d love to live near them.

So I made an appointment with a real estate agent.

And then I canceled it.

After a heart-to-heart conversation with myself, and some budget scrutiny, I realized that I’m just not ready to settle down.  I’ve barely begun my RV life, and I miss it.  There are lots of things I still want to do, including doing my genealogy research overseas.  It just doesn’t make sense to buy a house before I do all or most of these other things.

And then I started brainstorming with myself, made a list of the most important things I still need/want to do, and created a plan for the next 22 months.  All planned out.  And none of it involves buying a house, or being in Florida.  Stay tuned!!

 

 

DNA: My New Genealogy Obsession

I know I’m a little late to the party.  I’ve never been much of an early adopter for anything, whether it’s technology or fashion.  But if I’d jumped on the DNA bandwagon earlier, maybe by now I would’ve knocked down some brick walls by combining DNA results with my paper research.  On the positive side, in the time I’ve been procrastinating, DNA tests have become less expensive, and many more people have tested, so theoretically I can jump right in and find tons of cousins.

I had already tested myself on Ancestry and 23andme, my mother on 23andme, and my uncle’s Y-DNA on FamilyTreeDNA.  Then I gave my children and my ex-husband DNA kits for Christmas, and the results have all come in.  So, as I was deciding on classes to take at the RootsTech conference last week, I decided to focus on learning about DNA.  I already knew about the different types of tests, the 23 pairs of chromosomes, and how the X and Y chromosomes are inherited.  But I really had no idea what to do with all my matches on Ancestry and other sites. And then there’s all the jargon, like triangulation, recombination, and chromosome mapping.

At the conference, some of the classes were WAY over my head, and some were surprisingly too basic.   But I was able to absorb a few helpful tips, which is at least a start.  I know there are lots of online resources as well, so now I’m motivated to find those and take my beginner’s knowledge to the next level.  Here’s some of what I learned:

In your DNA matches on Ancestry, you can look at the number of centimorgans you have in common, as well as the number of segments.  All I know about centimorgans is that it’s a unit of measurement related to DNA.  The more centimorgans and the more segments in common, the more closely you’re related.  To find the centimorgans for a specific match, go to your matches list, click on “View Match”, and then click on the little “i” icon.  There you’ll find the number of centimorgans and segments for that match.

So what does it mean?  There’s a table by Blaine Bettinger at the International Society of Genetic Genealogists website here, about two-thirds down the page.  It shows the various relationships associated with ranges of centimorgans.  For example, the table shows that the range for the parent-child relationship is 3,266 to 3,720, with an average of 3,471.  My daughter shares 3,448 centimorgans with me, right in the middle of the range.  So you can compare the centimorgans in common with a match, and then refer to the table to see what the relationship might be.

You can make notes on all your matches, which can be a quick way to identify them from the summary page.  To make a note, click on “View Match”, and then “Add Note”.  Someone at the conference suggested that I put the number of centimorgans and segments there for easy reference, but you can use this feature for whatever you think will be helpful to you.  On the Summary page, you’ll now see a little note icon which you can click on to see the information.

Some of your matches will indicate “No family tree.”  Sometimes they really have no tree, but sometimes they just haven’t linked a tree to their DNA results.  To check this, click on “View Match” and if you see a drop down menu from which you can select a tree, then you can view a tree to see how you might match.  If there’s no drop down menu of tree names, then there’s no tree.

Even if there’s no tree to view, or if the tree is private, you can use a neat little tool called the Shared Matches feature.  Just click on “View Match” on the Match Summary page, and then click on the tab “Shared Matches”.  You’ll see a list of matches you share with the person, which could provide a clue regarding how you’re related.

Another helpful feature is the “Hints” tab at the top of the Match Summary page, which is a type of filter.  If you click on that tab, only those matches with shared ancestors will appear.  When you view these matches, Ancestry will show you the Most Recent Common Ancestor (“MRCA”) which you share with that match, according to your trees.  I went through all of  the “Hints” matches in my DNA results, and added the MRCA names to the match’s note, so I can see from the Summary page exactly how we’re related.  This is extremely helpful, too, when you use the “Shared Matches” feature for those with private or no trees.  If the matches with private or no trees share DNA with the matches which have the MRCA identified, then you know generally how you’re related.

As I went through this process, I found a couple of meaningful matches.  In my tree, I include some “Speculative Direct Ancestors”.  These aren’t yet properly documented as the parents of the previous generation, but I have them in my tree so I can test the hypothesis.  I use a big question mark as the Primary Photo so it’s clear that I’m not sure about the relationship.

So when I found matches with a Speculative Direct Ancestor as the MRCA, I thought that was pretty exciting.   There’s one in particular where the MRCA, Freelove Lamb, was married twice, and my DNA match descends from Freelove and her first husband.  The descendants of that marriage are well documented, but my paper trail to Freelove is weak.  So the fact that we match is pretty significant, and is an indication that I’m on the right track.

This match made me think of other brick walls I might be able to solve with DNA.  In order for Ancestry to find a MRCA, you need to have your Speculative Direct Ancestor in your tree.  So I added another speculative ancestor, Ishmael Furlong, to enable the Ancestry algorithm to identify him as an MRCA with a match who has Ishmael in his or her tree.  If I match with one of Ishmael’s descendants, then I may be able to conclude that my James Furlong was Ishmael’s son.

You can also search your matches by surname or by geographic location, which is going to come in really handy for me with my ex-husband’s matches – he has over 1,500 of them!

I learned a little about chromosome mapping and triangulation, but not enough to repeat it here.  I have a lot more to learn about all of it, but I especially want to understand better what constitutes proof when it comes to DNA, and how to organize matches and manipulate the data.   More to come as I explore this vast new arena!

 

Researching at the Family History Library

In addition to the ongoing delightful process of discovering Sarasota, my next travel adventure will be a week-long visit to Salt Lake City, Utah, where I’ll be attending an annual genealogy conference called RootsTech, and researching at the Family History Library (FHL) there.  I did the same thing in February 2016, except that I went by myself.  This year, I’ll be meeting up with a genea-friend I met there last year – which means it will be even better!

There’s no real preparation needed to attend the conference – I’ve already downloaded the app and the syllabi – but the planning involved in researching at the FHL is significant.  I’ve been there three or four times, which doesn’t make me an expert by any means, but it’s enough to have learned a few things which I’m happy to share with you.

As with most of us, I try my darndest to be efficient with my limited time, and frugal with my limited money.  A trip to Salt Lake City for a week can be expensive, so every minute there is precious, and I want to make the most of it.  This takes lots of planning.

The way I rationalize the travel expense is by comparing it with the cost of ordering microfilm at the local Family History Center at $7.50 a pop.  I can stay home and order 100 films at a cost of $750, which could easily take a year or more because of the wait time for each microfilm, or I can go directly to Salt Lake City and get it done in a few days.  And who doesn’t want to get their genealogy questions answered NOW? Plus, traveling is much more fun!!

Before Booking

Before you actually make flight and hotel reservations, it’s a good idea to see what’s going on in Salt Lake City.  You probably want to pick a time when there’s not a big conference going on, so the library isn’t as crowded.  Also, check the FHL’s holiday schedule and hours.  It’s generally open from 8 am to 9 pm Tuesday through Friday, with shorter days on Mondays and Saturdays.  It’s closed on Sunday.

If you only have a few days, you might want to plan your research trip for the days the library is open the longest.  When I had a full time job, I scheduled my travel day on Sunday when the library is closed.  Other people like to plan a week at the FHL with Sunday in the middle, taking a break from the crazy, sometimes overwhelming, research days.  You need to decide what works for you.

Logistics

Once you’ve chosen your dates, it’s time to book your flight and hotel.  I try to use frequent flyer miles for the flight (I accumulate them by using a credit card which provides miles for dollars spent), unless I find a terrific bargain air fare, which I did this time:  $200 round trip, non-stop from Orlando to Salt Lake on JetBlue!  The catch is that I have to drive two hours to Orlando and pay for parking for a week, but it’s still worth it.

I researched all the lodging options before I went the first time, and since then, I’ve done the exact same thing every time, because it worked so well.  I stay at the Carlton Hotel, a few blocks away from the library.  It’s a small, older hotel, but for about $70 per night it provides everything I need:  a free shuttle to and from the airport, a free shuttle to and from the Family History Library, great wifi, a fridge and microwave in the room, and a full cooked-to-order breakfast. And the staff there is wonderful.  You just can’t beat that!

It’s about a 15 minute walk to the library if you’d rather get the exercise and fresh air, and a short walk to an excellent grocery store.  One of the terrific side benefits of the Carlton is that other solo genealogists stay there, and you end up sharing a breakfast table and making new friends.  It’s perfect!  And, it’s an even better deal if you can share a room with a friend, which I’m going to do this time.

Some folks might prefer a more modern hotel which may be more expensive, but closer to the library.  There are several of those, but I have no experience with them, so can’t comment.  It’s been more important to me to keep costs down.

Food

To me, the whole food thing is a big pain in the neck in Salt Lake City – eating takes time away from researching.  Frankly, I haven’t quite figured out how to handle it.  Breakfast is covered at the hotel, and I make sure to get plenty of protein so it keeps me going through the morning.  But when it comes to taking meal breaks during the day at the library, I just don’t wanna. I know I have to eat, but I’m enjoying my research so much that I don’t want to leave!

The FHL has a lunch room with a slew of vending machines – that’s where I’ve had my lunch, and sometimes my dinner, in the past:  a pre-made sandwich, a soda, and maybe a couple of cookies.  It’s not a good solution, but it’s the quickest one.

If you’d prefer to take a break and leave the building for lunch, there are plenty of options within walking distance in the neighborhood.  Some people recommend asking at the front desk for a pass to eat in the cafeteria in the Church Office Building.  I’ve never tried it, so can’t comment.

This year, I’m going to try bringing my meals to the FHL, which will save money and help me stay on a healthy food plan.  If I’m very organized, I can shop at the grocery store behind the hotel, and prepare to-go meals in the room.  My friend Marina does a great job of planning ahead.  Last year, she brought everything she needed to support her food prep requirements, including plastic food containers.  I’m going to follow her example!

Research Planning

This is the fun stuff, and the hardest part as well.

First, you need to choose what you’re going to research. Sounds easy, but before you choose, consider the following:

  • Location:  You don’t want to spend time researching something at the FHL that you could also research locally.  That would be a waste of travel time and money.  For example, when I lived in Pennsylvania, I would NOT research at the FHL in any Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, or Maryland records.  These are all locations which I could access from home over a long weekend.  It made a lot more sense to research in Ohio, Oregon, California, or Wisconsin records.  These are locations I’m not likely to physically get to anytime soon.
  •  Where do you need assistance?  Think about areas where you might need help.  The plentiful staff at the library is generally extremely helpful, patient and kind.  Take advantage of their expertise by choosing areas where you might need help.  For example, consider researching in international records while you’re there.  Not only is it more difficult for us to get overseas to research in these records, but at the FHL, you’ll have help.  When I did some research in the German records there, the staff guided me every step of the way, and even translated some of the records for me – they are fabulous!
  • Should you focus, or grab and go?  Some people recommend focusing on only one family line, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.  I follow more of the grab and go method:  I come prepared with a list so I’m organized, but I’m all over the place.  I don’t do much analysis there at the library – I just grab records for later analysis.  I feel like this is the most efficient way to use my time there.  For example, perhaps there’s a record I’m missing for a particular person but I’ve just not been able to access it easily anywhere else.  Maybe I know the record exists because I’ve seen an index, but the record itself isn’t online.  This might be true for ten people across family lines, so I keep a Family History Library list as I research at home.  My goal in Salt Lake City is to obtain these missing records.
  • What’s online?   Don’t make the mistake of flying all the way to Salt Lake City and doing research you could have done online at home!  When you’re deciding which family to research, take into account whether or not the records you need have been digitized and uploaded to the internet.  I’ve made this mistake enough times that I now check the internet the week before I go to Salt Lake.  As you know, new records go online all the time, so it’s worth a quick look to avoid wasting your precious time at the FHL.

Next, prepare a research plan.  Once you’ve decided which families you’ll research, prepare a research plan. The first step is to review everything you already know about the family.  Make a list of what you still need to learn, and what types of records would help to find the answers.  This process will refresh your memory and give you an opportunity to find out as much as you can online before you go.

Then, familiarize yourself with the floor plan of the FHL. You’ll need to know this when you’re organizing your microfilm list in the step below.  The five floors are organized as follows, from the bottom up:

  • Basement 2: British Isles
  • Basement 1: International
  • Main Floor: Family History and Canada Books
  • Second Floor: U.S. and Canada Microfilms
  • Third Floor: U.S. Books and Maps

Fourth, check the FHL catalog online to find the records you need to access. Make lists of the film numbers you need, along with what you’re looking for on that film.  I organize the film numbers numerically, and by floor – this will make it quicker to locate them when you’re there.  You might also choose to list the microfilm in priority order, to make sure you have time to view the ones most important to you.

Note whether any of the films you need to see are in the “Vault” (the catalog will indicate that if applicable); if they are, you’ll need to order them in advance, which can be done online.

You might want to prioritize films which are in a series, or films which require looking at an index in one film, and the record in another.  This type of research is more time consuming and expensive to do at a local Family History Center.  For example, with deed research, you need to look at the index first.  At the local center, you would pay $7.50, wait two to three weeks for the film with the index, then order the microfilm with the deed book for another $7.50, and wait two to three weeks again.  At the FHL, you can look at both right away.

A lower priority would be films which you need to search line by line, page by page.  Since this is so time consuming, it might be better to do that at the local Family History Center when you get home.

If in the catalog you find books that look useful to you, plan to look at them first.  Books can’t be circulated, so the FHL is the only place where you can view them (of course, they could be at other libraries as well).

Remember, you want to “hit the ground running” when you arrive at the FHL. The more you can do in advance, the more you’ll be able to focus on getting the records you need when you get there.

What to Bring

  1. A flash drive. The FHL has high-tech digital microfilm viewers which allow you to save the images directly to a flash drive.  These machines also allow you to adjust the focus and the brightness/contrast, and you can zoom in to the sweet spot.  If you bring your own flash drive, there is no cost to save documents this way.
  1. One or more notebooks. I’ve found that if I have one notebook, or one section in a notebook, for each surname, it keeps me more organized.  When I get home, I file my notes in the appropriate surname folder both in my physical and digital files.  My notes document which microfilm I looked at and what I copied to my flash drive.  This helps me to create the citation later as well.
  1. Your laptop or tablet. Everyone has their own way of keeping their information.  Some folks don’t even use paper any more.  I still use both, so I bring both a paper notebook, and my laptop.  Make sure you have access to your complete family tree and genealogy files, whether it’s on your computer, on paper, or on the internet, and don’t forget your passwords! Scan everything you have on the family so you have the information without having to carry a large pile of paper with you. If you’re like me, you’ll probably go back to your hotel room after a day of research, and do some online research with the new information found.

My laptop has all of my genealogy information on it, so as long as I have that with me, I don’t have to remember what information to print out for my research.  Another reason I bring my laptop is that the FHL has free wifi, so I can access the internet from my own computer right there at the microfilm station, rather than getting up to use the FHL computers every time I need to look something up.

  1. A research bag. You’re going to need a bag to carry to the library with you.  Stock it up with your laptop, notebooks, flash drives, snacks, pens and pencils, pencil sharpener, Tylenol, a magnifying glass, ruler, tissues, and so on.
  1. Digital camera. Instead of using the copy machine to copy pages in a book, take a digital picture.  If you take a picture of the cover of the book and the title page in the front, and then the internal contents you want, you’ll know what book your photos came from, and then  you can craft your citation.  If you do need to make copies, the library sells copy cards you can use – you don’t need to bring change.

At the Library

The library provides a ten minute orientation which you might want to watch first.  Also, check the class schedule to see what’s offered during the time you’re there.  The staff is very helpful, so don’t hesitate to ask if there’s anything at all you need.

I arrive at the library at opening time, go directly to the floor I want, and get started!  This time I’m going to the third floor to look at the U.S. books, where I’m sure I’ll spend at least a day.   I can’t wait!!