The American Library Association is facing a partisan firefight unlike anything in its almost 150-year history. The once-uncontroversial organization, which says it is the world’s largest and oldest library association and which provides funding, training and tools to most of the country’s 123,000 libraries, has become entangled in the education culture wars — the raging debates over what and how to teach about race, sex and gender.

Politicians and parents on the right increasingly paint the association, known as the ALA, as a defender of pornographic literature for children — tying their allegations into a broader conservative movement that asserts school libraries are filled with sexually explicit, inappropriate texts.

Over the summer, state libraries in Montana, Missouri and Texas announced that they were severing ties with the ALA, imperiling their libraries’ access to funding and training. The Texas decision was taken after state Rep. Brian Harrison (R) wrote to library leaders saying that “the ALA works against parents by fighting to keep pornographic materials in public libraries.” Conservative legislators in at least nine additional states are urging their state libraries to follow suit and disaffiliate. That includes Alabama, where state Rep. Susan DuBose in August published an op-ed calling the ALA “a conduit” for pornography. Four days later, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) wrote to her state’s library saying she was worried about “the environment” in libraries statewide and feared the ALA was “making the situation worse.”