- The former Lake View Branch opened September 14, 1942 at its current location.
- The branch was rededicated December 8, 1988, after undergoing a major renovation.
- In June 1993, the branch was renamed for John M. Merlo, a local community leader and longtime Chicago politician.
- The two-story building was designed by City Architect Paul Gerhardt.
- Sculptor Abbott Pattison designed the frieze above the front entrance.
- Merlo Branch features artwork funded through the Percent for Art Ordinance administered by the City of Chicago Public Art Program:
- a painting by Martyl
- a fiber work by Louise Papageorge
- drawings by Michael Ryan