JEROME – If you don’t live in Jerome, you’ve likely never heard of The Jerome Book.
The book, exclusively available to Jerome folks, contains the names and phone numbers of 500 residents and businesses.
The first edition was by curated by La Victoria Studio in 1992. Nancy Weisel and Tracy Weisel would sift through the Whitepages at their dining room table after work, compiling the names and addresses of everyone in Jerome – a laborious task as the Whitepages included street addresses for Sedona, Cottonwood and the entirety of the Verde Valley.
“I think that’s one of the reasons he married me, is because I could do this,” Nancy Weisel joked.
The Weisels called each Jerome resident and asked if they wanted to be in the book. Nancy was key to the success of the book because she knew her way around a computer.
Since then, a new edition has been released every two to three years.
“It’s really not a phonebook – everyone calls it that, but it’s The Jerome Book because you don’t have to have a phone to be in the book. Basically, it’s always a somewhat accurate listing of Jerome residents and businesses,” Nancy Weisel said.
While the book is free, donations to the Jerome Library are welcomed.
“Everybody wants the new phone book right after it comes out. It’s a great fundraiser for the library,” said library employee Wendy Schaal.
The book looks less like a phonebook and more like a restaurant menu. The current 11th edition, printed on bright blue cardstock, features a memorial for Jerome residents who passed away since the 10th edition. This includes singer Katie Lee, who passed in November just before the new book was finished.
Other art on previous books featured a sketch of the Raku Gallery building, the Weisel’s cat, two groups of baby booms and the Copper Town Ball from 2008.
The Jerome Library handles the bulk of distribution now, but Weisel says it used to be done by going door-to-door, business-to-business to hand out books.
The 11th edition has 60 new entries. Weisel credits this to the switch from home phones to cell phones rather than a population increase.
The book has not always been exclusive. A copy used to hang at the post office’s board, where residents could pen updates to their information publicly. Occasionally, someone would take the public copy.
“One time, everybody started getting letters from some fanatical person. The reason I knew it was from that book being taken was, [the letters had] the same errors in the [book] that was up. I was like ‘oh, now I’ve got to be really protective of it.’ So I am,” Weisel said.
Weisel is dedicated to keeping the “menu look” of the book, as opposed to an actual phonebook. She credits Lisa Petty of GirlVibe Designs for making the book look polished and for fitting everyone on a single fold-out. Squeezing the names and numbers has become more difficult with every edition.
While the idea for the book was inspired by Tracy’s visit to small Ohio town with a similar book in the 80s, Nancy is the one who has kept it going through the editions. Weisel hopes to update the book yearly now that she’s “semi-retired.” She says the feedback she receives from the town is positive.
“Everybody loves it. I get so many pats on the back for it. So yeah, people love it, unless they’re trying to be incognito – there’s a few of those people,” Weisel laughed. “A lot of people don’t want to be in it and that’s just fine. Thank you, because we don’t have room for you!”