students in a personal library leaf through books

Five Champlain students and Associate Professor Sheila Liming settled into Dummerston, Vermont over spring break for a unique stay at author Rudyard Kipling’s estate. The historic property, called Naulakha, is where he wrote some of his most famous works, including The Jungle Book, Captains Courageous, and Just So Stories for Little Children

Today, the mansion is owned and operated by Landmark Trust USA, a historical properties restoration nonprofit in New England managing their properties as overnight vacation rentals. The organization reached out to Professor Liming to request the assistance of her and a handful of students in cataloging the estate’s library. Under the Writing & Publishing professor’s guidance, five Division of Communication & Creative Media students tended to the expansive library collection while capturing photos of their visit and exploring how to market Naulakha to new audiences for Landmark Trust USA.

student holds an old warped book open for a close up look
Writing & Publishing major Beck Natale ’24 shows off a book from the Naulakha library collection. Students on the trip built a catalog listing the contents of the library and identified books for material conservation.

“The biggest project we were working on was the library at the estate, which has an estimated number of 1,300 books in it. We were building a catalog for them of the library, so they would know exactly what books they have inside,” explains Liming, who has previous experience working with personal libraries. In fact, Liming published a book, What a Library Means to a Woman: Edith Wharton and the Will to Collect Books (2020), about her experience digitizing the library left behind by the famed American author of The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome

Among those on the trip, Writing & Publishing major Madeline Minks ’24 spoke about her professor’s dedication and the collaboration between the students and Liming. “It was a very eye-opening experience to be able to work so collaboratively with a professor. It was definitely different from a classroom experience because she’s guiding us, she’s supporting us, she’s giving us advice and telling us how to do things, but she’s also tapping into our skill sets,” Minks says.

Some of the books in the Naulakha library collection included dried flowers and preserved plant specimens.

Minks credits her internship at Porter Square Books in Massachusetts for preparing her for the spring break experience. “I had experience categorizing and organizing books, and knowing where to find information inside of books.” As a result, she quickly dove into projects that required cataloging, and even put together a family tree at the estate. 

The other half of their work included documenting their stay through a “takeover” of Landmark Trust USA’s Instagram account. “Essentially, what we did for the week was capture photos of all the stuff we were doing,” says Creative Media major Luisa Bueno ʼ24. “For example, in the library I showed us looking at books and documenting their progress, or if we went and explored or went on a walk around the garden area or the tennis courts. It was sort of like a documentary.”

four students look at the grass while walking around an estate in rural vermont
Left to right: Saniyah Hill ’24, Madeleine Minks ’24, Alanah Tuohey ’23, and Beck Natale ’24 explore the grounds of Naulakha, author Rudyard Kipling’s estate located near Dummerston, Vermont.

While Bueno and other students on the trip captured visuals, another student, Beck Natale ’24, wrote the captions for the social media posts and shared the group’s entire stay with Landmark Trust USA’s social media followers. For students interested in marketing, content writing, photography, and advertising, this portion of the project was particularly rewarding and engaging as they utilized their art and digital media skills to provide examples of how Landmark USA could target the younger audiences they wanted to reach. 

The students found the collaboration between themselves and their professor to be out of the ordinary, in the best way. Building these connections in a place outside of the classroom fosters close bonds, Minks notes. “The best part about it was just being able to talk to people and also be in this beautiful place. When we all had dinner together it was like one big family. We were cooking in the kitchen and screaming along to music, including a song from Sheila’s band.”

In such a close environment, Bueno echoes how special the opportunity was for building relationships and deepening her connections to her classmates and craft. “I’ve never experienced creative, collaborative groups like that before. Sometimes I forget how nice it is as an artist to be around other creative people, because we would say something or learn something, and immediately we’d all be just so inspired to create something new,” she said.

two students sit in chairs in front of a brick-surrounded fireplace in the library of an old estate
Saniyah Hill ’24 and Luisa Bueno ’24 work in the library at Naulakha. In addition to building the catalog, students worked to identify rare or valuable items in the collection, including those that may have once belonged to author Rudyard Kipling.

 The trip to Naulakha encapsulates the collaboration and connections that Champlain aims to build, especially within the Creative Studio. Together, students use their limitless creativity and learned skills to come together and produce meaningful and unique work. As Bueno said, “Just being able to live in a beautiful environment, do cool stuff, and make something together—it was really nice, you know?”

books by Rudyard Kipling are stacked on a table
Naulakha is where Kipling wrote some of his most famous works, including The Jungle Book, Captains Courageous, and Just So Stories for Little Children.
Alyssa Fabrizio
Alyssa Fabrizio '26 is a Writing & Publishing major, working as a Web Content Producer for the Champlain College Marketing department.

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