Founded by Leiden University Library and the Faculties of Arts, Theology and Philosophy (now the Faculty of Humanities) on the occasion of the 425th anniversary of Leiden University in June 2000, the Scaliger Institute aims to stimulate and facilitate the use of the Special Collections of Leiden University Library in both teaching and research. To this purpose, the Institute offers favourable working conditions and expertise, organizes conferences, master classes, special courses and lectures, among which the Scaliger Lectures, given by the Scaliger professor and other prominent scholars. Furthermore, the Scaliger Institute hosts a fellowship programme for visiting scholars. The objective is that through teaching, in close co-operation with the Leiden faculty departments, by means of lectures, courses, masterclasses or otherwise bringing students in to contact with the wealth and diversity of the Special Collections. An annual winter school is a special part of the educational programme.
Until the beginning of 2005, the Scaliger Institute was jointly financed by the Campaign for Leiden -the fund-raising organisation of Leiden University-, Leids Universiteits Fonds (LUF), and the University Library, with additional support from various other sponsors. In the period 2006-2009, the Scaliger Institute will be financed by the Executive Board of Leiden University. Another important fund is the tri-annual subsidy granted by publishing house Brill, which facilitates the appointment of a so-called Brill fellow.